Leidos scientists break new ground in clean water technology
Acid mine drainage from a Pennsylvania coal mine. Photo: Getty Images
Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic have never been easy to remove from contaminated water.
However, Leidos and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have developed a new award-winning method based on a novel sorbent, an inexpensive sand-like material that absorbs toxins in the waterway.
Why you should know: When tiny bits of heavy metals contaminate the water supply, they cause problems for public health, the environment and industry.
Abandoned mines, for example, often leak acid mine drainage that kills aquatic life and degrades the quality of drinking water.
Furthermore, trace amounts of these metals can diminish the quality of electronic products and lead to toxicity issues in drug formulations.
The challenge: Conventional methods of removing heavy metals from contaminated water are inefficient, expensive and generate large amounts of toxic sludge.
Leidos impact: Fan Shi, Ph.D., a Technical Fellow at Leidos, is part of a team at NETL that developed a new solution called Multi-Functional Sorbent Technology (MUST).
MUST, made of tiny particles that look like fine grains of white sand, is not only effective, but also sustainable because it can be reused and recycled. Researchers on the team demonstrated that these particles remove contaminants below limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are up to 50 percent more effective than costly commercial methods.
The team earned the prestigious DOE Secretary’s Honor Award in 2021 for the ground-breaking solution.
From the source: “There is widespread contamination of Earth's water systems with a myriad of heavy metals that continues to grow and become an increasing threat to our way of life," Shi explained. “As chemical engineers, our goal is to develop this practical, affordable and green approach to removing the threat of selenium, lead and other heavy metals, plus some organics from streams that ultimately contaminate precious water supplies all across America – a threat that jeopardizes the health of millions of people, animals and our ecosystems."
Please contact the Leidos media relations team for more information.