Easy solution

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

problems of environmental degradation can be ironed out, literally! Christopher Nagel and his team at the Molten Metal Technology in Waltham, Massachusetts, along with Robert Bach, a chemist at the Wayne State University, have arrived at the conclusion that molten iron could do the trick of recycling everything from toxic industrial waste to beer cans. These unwanted materials, which otherwise pollute the eco-system, can then be sourced as re-usable products with no toxic by-products.

Molten iron at 750c works on the waste by breaking them down into their component atoms. The iron then acts as a catalyst, combining the elements to produce useful gases, metal alloys and ceramics.Demonstrating at a pilot plant in Massachusetts, they used the iron to break down the solvent chlorobenzene contaminated with cobalt oxide - a common waste product during the manufacturing of chlorinated compounds - to produce hydrogen, carbon, chlorine, oxygen and cobalt atoms.

Chemical waste, metal and plastic wastes can all be synthesised, thus, to form gases and iron alloys. The researchers have also patented their new technology.

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