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Look under your feet

Ground contamination from crude oil and tar is notoriously difficult to clean up because it clings to the soil. So scientists have tried injecting the ground with special iron nanoparticles that act as sponges. The nanosponges trap contaminants and can cause them to break down safely and carry them to the surface for collection.

The problem is that these nanosponges can spread very fast and are difficult to retrieve. So the hunt is on for different nanoparticles that can turn pollutants into harmless substances so there is no need to retrieve them.



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Clusters of nanoscale iron particles may be effective in cleaning up contaminated groundwater.
Clusters of nanoscale iron particles may be effective in cleaning up contaminated groundwater.
Image: Chongmin Wang, PNNL

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