Wastewater discharged into rivers and seas, mercury-polluted fish and contaminated agriculture. These are just some of the consequences that can cause heavy metals in water. In April 1998, in Spain, heavy metals contained in the water contaminated a crack in the mining dam of the Coto de Donana nature reserve, the result was the genesis of 5 million meters of fanco contaminated by lead, copper, zinc, sulfur and cadmium. The traces of these heavy metals flowed to the Rio Guadimar, experts estimated that the damage caused by this environmental disaster could be permanent especially for agriculture and fishing, not to mention the largest bird sanctuary in Europe.
This one from the South of Spain is just one example of the dire consequences brought about by the presence of heavy metals in water. Brown University engineers are developing an efficient and sustainable system to remove all traces of heavy metals from the waters. In the experiments, the researchers showed how the system reduces the presence of cadmium, copper and nickel, bringing the concentrations of heavy metals in water, in acceptable federal standards. The technique should be applied for environmental remediation and in metal recovery fields. Unfortunately, the release of heavy metals in waterways, is a consequence of many production practices and is a practice implemented by numerous industries around the globe. The heavy metals released in this way contaminate fauna and flora, and sometimes traces of heavy metals in water even for centuries, perpetuating contamination and danger.
Joseph Calo, an emeritus professor at Brown University, notes that the high costs and inefficient techniques of exporting heavy metals from water, make any attempt at remediation difficult. Professor Calo states "It's like trying to put genius in the bottle". Calo and other Brown University engineers have developed a method called "Electrolytic cycle / precipitation"Or CEP system, this method removes up to 99% of copper, cadmium and nickel, decontaminating the water. The CEP system has a great commercial potential thanks to its high efficiency and low costs. The mechanics of the system is described in an academic article published in the Journal of Chemical Engineering.