A group of Brisbane scientists has developed a way to remove radioactive materials from water – a technique, they say, could help clean up contaminated sites around the world.

The new process uses nanotube technology to filter the toxins out of the radioactive water.

Claudia Kirkman reports.


After three years of research, Professor Huai-Yong Zhu and his team have developed technology capable of absorbing radioactive toxins from water.

The Queensland University of Technology scientists say the break-through could solve the problem of how to clean-up millions of tonnes of contaminated water.

Professor Huai-Yong Zhu, QUT School of Phyiscs and Chemistry: “We developed this material, when the water pass through they can capture this radioactive species and clean up the water.”

The breakthrough is a filtration process using titanium dioxide and nanotube technology.

The contaminated water passes through the material which then traps the radioactive toxins.

Once removed from the water, the toxins can then be stored safely in lead containers.

The scientists’ claim it takes just one gram to purify over a tonne of contaminated water.

Professor Zhu says the process is ideal for cleaning up dangerous leaks like at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station.

Professor Huai-Yonh Zhu, QUT School of Physics and Chemistry: “So if they can have this technology before the accident, when they find the water has leaked, just drop the material there and they can greatly reduce the damage.”

Australia is the world’s largest producer of titanium dioxide, which is the base material for the nanotube filtration process.

Professor Huai-Yong Zhu, QUT School of Physics and Chemistry: “We can sell this technology to them. They can produce, like say they can produce tonnes, one tonne, two tonne, hundreds of tonnes and clean up everything.”

Professor Zhu says industries as diverse as mining, medicine and nulcear power could all benefit from the technology.

He says the process has been successfully tested and is now ready for the commerical market.

Claudia Kirkman, QUT News.