Thursday, February 9, 2017

Science & Technology: Adsorbent Material Extracts Commodities from Geothermal Brine

Featured R&D 100 Award Winner: U-Grabber (R & D Magazine)

The U-Grabber, created by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is a superior adsorbent material for the remediation of water and the extraction of commodities from traditionally difficult-to-mine sources, such as oceans, fly ash, mine-tailings ponds and geothermal brines, including fracking water. The innovative product was the winner of a 2016 R&D 100 Award.

The material is made from polyethylene fibers, similar to PVC, woven into braids and grafted with chains of a uranium-attractive chemical called amidoxine.

The adsorbent works by immobilizing (i.e., coordinating) metals on the highly grafted polymer. The use of metal coordination (i.e., grabbing the metal out of solution) allows U-Grabber to extract metals of interest from solutions where traditional adsorbents are cost prohibitive.

These solutions include high salinity solutions, such as geothermal brines, or high sulfate streams, which include some municipal water sources.