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Sorbents for Decontamination of Liquid Wastes


Universal Sorbents for Decontamination of Liquid Wastes from Cations of Toxic Metals

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry
  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • ENV-RED/Remediation and Decontamination/Environment
  • ENV-RWT/Radioactive Waste Treatment/Environment
  • MAT-OTH/Other/Materials

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Russian Academy of Sciences / Kola Science Centre / Tananaev Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Rate Elements and Mineral Raw Materials, Russia, Murmansk reg., Apatity


  • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas / Instituto de Ciencias de la Construccion Eduardo Torroja, Spain, Madrid\nCEA / Centre de Marcoule, France, Bagnoles sur Sèze\nTechnological Educational Institution of Western Macedonia, Greece, Kozani\nKuopion University / Department of Environmental Sciences, Finland, Mikkeli

Project summary

Relevance and general challenge: The most danger sources of environment contamination are the liquid wastes containing non-ferrous heavy metal ions and/or radionuclides of cobalt, caesium, strontium, etc. Due to the complex chemical composition of liquid wastes, extraction of contaminants is often rather difficult problem and it is a reason of why they either pile up or are dumped in water areas without decontamination. Thus, the problem of effective and cheap decontamination of liquid wastes down to the sanitary standards is very important from the economical and ecological points of view, in particular, in the case of radioactive wastes. Additionally, the recovering of non-ferrous heavy metals contained in liquid wastes appears to have an essential economical value due to their high worth.

The sorption is the most wide-spread method to decontaminate liquid technological wastes form toxic metals (non-ferrous heavy metals, radionuclides). The efficiency of liquid waste decontamination by sorption methods depends on the sorbent properties and technology of its employment. Sorbents must be non-toxic, cheap, and, at the same time, demonstrate a high selectivity to the toxic metal cations contained in technological wastes of complex composition. Given a wide variety in waste compositions, today there are no sorbents meeting these requirements. Existing sorbents (sometimes toxic) either are expensive or demonstrate low selectivity and sorption capacity.

Goal of this project is the development of a novel type of cheap non-toxic inorganic sorbents and conditions of their employment, which, in the case of technological liquid wastes of complex composition, provide:

  • effective sorption/desorption of non-ferrous heavy metals (from liquid wastes of metallurgic plants) for their recycling;
  • effective sorption of radionuclides of cesium, strontium, cobalt (from liquid radioactive wastes with increased content of salts of non-radioactive cations) and formation of insoluble chemical forms providing their immobilization for reliable disposal.

Application area: metallurgy industry and nuclear power

The Project represents an extended experimental investigation in the field of physics, chemistry, and technology of nanostructured amorphous sorption materials, combining the features of fundamental and applied research and including: 1) development of the universal sorbent of optimal composition, 2) development of laboratory technology of sorption and desorption of non-ferrous heavy metals and sorbent regeneration, 3) development of technology of radionuclide immobilization (cesium, strontium, cobalt) in the forms suitable for disposal, 4) development of laboratory technologies of granulation and application modes of the universal sorbent, 5) analysis of the efficiency of the sorbent production based on middlings of the mining industry, 6) development of laboratory technology of the universal sorbent, 7) production of trial batch of the universal sorbent and its testing.

An essential distinctive of the proposed research is the development of the sorbents dedicated not only to the decontamination of liquid toxic wastes but to the recycling of non-ferrous heavy metals.

Using physic-chemical methods, including electrochemistry, the applicants intend to study dependences of sorption characteristics of the developed sorbents (selectivity, sorption capacity, etc.) on their composition, granularity, temperature, as well as on pH and salt composition of liquid wastes to be decontaminated from ecologically danger cations of toxic metals and optimize the sorbent.

Using physical methods of materials science (determining area of the specific surface, electron microscopy, light scattering spectroscopy, etc.), the applicants intend to find the relation between structure and sorption/desorption characteristics of the developed sorbents and optimize the sorbents.

The applicants plane to perform chemical and chemical-technological studies to find optimal conditions to use middlings of the mining industry as the raw materials for the sorbent production.

Studies of crystallization and chemical durability of sorbents filled with cations of toxic metals and crystallized under different conditions of heat treatment will be carried out. On the base of these studies the conditions of immobilization of cations of ecologically danger metals will be elaborated.

Expected results


  • Dependences of sorption characteristics on composition and structure of the sorbents;
  • Dependences of desorption of non-ferrous heavy metals and sorbent regeneration on temperature and concentration factors;
  • Physical and chemical basis of the technology of immobilization of radionuclides on the sorbent matrix.

  • New high-effective and selective sorbents for decontamination of liquid wastes, including solutions with increased content of non-toxic components, sediments and organic contaminants, as well as technology of the sorbent production and employment;
  • Technology of desorption of non-ferrous heavy metals from the sorbents for their recycling;
  • Technology of transforming the sorbents saturated by toxic metals to insoluble forms suitable for disposal;
  • Technology of utilization of the middlings of the mining industry as raw materials for sorbent production;
  • Possibility to use the sorbents for revival of the grounds contaminated by toxic metals and to construct ecological barriers.

Commercial: Novel product in the high technology market, that is, a set of non-toxic universal sorbents, characterized by the highest sorption capability and selectivity, capability of operating with complex liquid wastes (including sea water contaminated with petrochemicals and muddiness), possibility to extracting non-ferrous heavy metals from liquid wastes for their recycling, and the price 5-6 times lower than the one of other similar products existing in the world market.

Previous experiences: The project will be implemented by scientists of I. V. Tananaev Institute of Chemistry and Technology of Rare Elements and Raw Materials at Kola Scientific Center of Russian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with scientists of Research and Technological Institute of Optical Materials Science at All-Russia Scientific Center “S. I. Vavilov State Optical Institute” and other Russian institutions. The second one was the leading USSR institute developing materials for military use. The applicants have a long experience of work in developing inorganic materials for different applications, including amorphous materials. The results of these works have been published in leading international pre-reviewed journals, priority and applied significance of obtained results have been approved by Russian and international patents. Key ideas related to the development of universal sorbents have been patented – one of the patents is included in the list of the best 100 Russian patents. Developed sorbents and technology of liquid waste decontamination have been awarded by one gold medal and bronze medals of the World Exhibition of Innovation, Research and New Technology EURIKA 2004 and 2006 (Brussels, Belgium). In the course of the project implementation the experience accumulated by the applicants in performing ISTC projects No. 979, 2428, 2696 will be exploited.

Fulfillment of the project will make it possible to achieve the following goals of the ISTC: redirection of the activity of Russian weapon scientists to peaceful work, integration of Russian scientists into international scientific community, support of applied researches and developments aimed at protecting environment and preventing danger of nuclear contamination, promotion of transformation of Russia to the civil-oriented free market economy.

Cooperation with collaborators will include discussions of the Project results at topical meetings and joint workshops, transfer of the samples to the laboratories of collaborators for testing, comparison of the testing results with the ones obtained by the Project executors, joint investigations, publications, patenting of new technical decisions, establishing relations with potential customers, estimation of the prospects, and working-out recommendations on application of the developed sorbents and technology of decontamination of liquid wastes produced by non-ferrous metallurgy, galvanic plants, mining industry, as well as deactivation (cesium, strontium, cobalt) of liquid radioactive wastes.

Planned sustainability is conditioned by the unique properties of the sorbents and technology to be developed and their sharp necessity related to still piling up liquid wastes of metallurgy industry and nuclear power. For example, average volume of liquid wastes of a typical galvanic plant is equal to 600-800 m3 per day, with 30% of them being dumped in water areas without decontamination, whereas non-ferrous heavy metals contained in the wastes could be recycled. In addition, the total world volume of radioactive wastes exceeds 1000 million m3, with about 50% falling on Russia – it is mainly the radioactive liquid wastes, and their volume increases by 10 million m3 a year ( Note, conversion of the laboratory sorption technology to the industrial one can be carried out on the base of the project results.

Social sequences of the project implementation will consist in broadening technical facilities to minimize environmental impact of escalating industrial activity of the man and in increasing the number of new jobs in civil industry, including ones for former weapon-scientists of USSR.


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