UTSA physicist Kelly Nash is shooting a laser into a vessel filled with metal pellets to create a nanomaterial in a water solution. It's a building block of what she and colleague Heather Shipley hope could dramatically reduce size, scope and environmental impact of water cleaning technology.
"And once we finish our laser processing, our nanomaterial is ready to go," says Nash.
They take this and bind it with two other nano-metals. They hope the outcome composite could one day remove metals, organics and other pollutants--having one technology remove what would be multiple technologies--shrinking the number and size of devices used to clean water.
The process they use is already innovative, synthesizing the nano-material with lasers instead of with the traditional chemical process takes it from an hours or even days long effort to a matter of minutes.
Shipley says they are early in testing, but they are able to remove a number of heavy metals already.
"We've done some preliminary experiments and we can remove arsenic," she adds.
Shipley is a civil engineer so she will be in charge of figuring out how this gets used outside of the lab. She speculates it could work for developing countries, rural areas, and possibly large scale commercial water treatment.
The pair received $65,000 to continue their study from the National Science Foundation.