A Molecular Way of Stopping Pollution

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With pollution still being a major issue in the ecosystem, scientists, ecologists, and environmentalists have been working for decades to stop this pandemic. Finally, something new has been brought up that might help rid contaminating pollution, at least in small increments. Genetic scientists in Switzerland have designed a new membrane that uses amyloid protein fibers to grab ahold of metal and radioactive waste and pull it out of water. The membranes have even shown that they can pull more than their own weight in contaminants.

The scientists created this specialized membrane by converting milk proteins into the durable amyloid fibers. They then began testing the amyloid membrane by using it in different solutions that mimicked common polluted water situations. It was recorded that the membrane picked up ninety nine percent of most of the solutions. It picked up metals such as lead and mercury with ease and radioactive material also was not able to get away from this microbial strainer. Even gold was found to be caught up as well, which was later observed to be able to be purified again after being caught by the proteins. The scientists took notice that the membrane, with less than six milligrams of amyloids, could contain around one hundred milligrams of gold.

This discovery of the membrane being able to hold more than its own mass has surprised scientists. Whereas, other common membrane materials would not be able to grab half the amount the amyloid membrane does.

The idea of bringing the water to purification sites has also crossed the minds of scientists such as Raffael Mezzenga, a physicist of ETZ Tech.

“The membranes could be developed for small or large scale water purification units,” Mezzenga said.

Mezzenga even has estimated that per every one thousand liters of water filtered through the purification site the technology would cost only one dollar.

“The membrane design is thins and flexible, and could be adjusted to optimize cleanup or metal recovery’s.” Mezzenga said.

The membranes are still being tested at this point in time as a precaution in case there is a silver lining found in this micro biological find. Another issue being looked at is the high and low acidities found in water and how the membrane will react to the chemicals.

With all the testing aside, the amyloid proteins trapping abilities have encouraged the science community that the answer to stopping pollution is not too far as we once believed. This find might even inspire other researchers to look at more closely related ways of developing contaminant filters through microbials.

In the near future, these proteins might be used in a lot of ways of purification and become the answer to the question of how scientists can stop pollution in water.

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