Introducing our new Associate Editor

Wei-Guo Song joins the Environmental Science: Nano team as Associate Editor

We are delighted to introduce Wei-Guo as a new Associate Editor for Environmental Science: Nano.

Wei-Guo joins Greg Lowry, Iseult Lynch and Kristin Schirmer as Associate Editors handling submissions to the journal.

Dr. Wei-Guo Song is a Professor in the Institute of Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ICCAS). He is also a Professor at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He obtained his BSc. from Peking University in 1992, and his PhD from University of Southern California in 2001. He joined ICCAS in 2005, and received National Distinguished Young Scholar award in 2007.

His research group focuses on the design of nano porous materials and their properties. More specifically, he is interested in using nano porous materials as adsorbents for inorganic pollutants, and as heterogeneous catalysts for catalytic degradation of organic pollutants. He is also interested in developing high performance catalysts including noble metal catalysts, solid acid/base catalysts, non-metal catalysts, etc. for fine chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

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Please join us in welcoming Wei-Guo to Environmental Science: Nano.

Interested in the latest news, research and events of the Environmental Science journals? Find us on Twitter: @EnvSciRSC

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Trapping radioactive Technetium with a Tin-containing nanocomposite

an article by Dan Mercea, PhD student at Imperial College London

Significant quantities of radioactive compounds are contaminating our environment. Due to nuclear weapon production during the Cold War, large quantities of radioactive Technetium-99 (99Tc) has been released into the environment. Although the Cold War ended 25 years ago, the total Tc inventory continues to rise as it is a major product during the generation of nuclear power resulting from the nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium.

Radioactive Tc is long lived and predominantly found in nuclear waste, in the highly mobile form of the water-soluble pertechnetate anion TcO4-. The high mobility possessed by TcO4- causes concerns regarding its distribution within the environment and makes storage impracticable within cement-based materials, a widely employed medium for the storage of nuclear waste.

Managing nuclear waste
Reduction of TcO4- from Tc(VII) to Tc(IV)  is one possible solution. This is a challenging solution as Tc(IV) tends to convert back to TcO4- if exposed to oxygen. The reduction process requires a proton source to proceed and is disfavoured under the strongly alkaline conditions found in the waste media. The nuclear waste tanks also contain a large amount of both spectator ions, which make TcO4- more difficult to reduce, and high-valent metal species such as Cr(VI). This can interfere with the reduction process by consuming the available Sn(II) and/or by converting any formed Tc(IV) back to TcO4-.

To overcome these obstacles, Eric D. Walter and colleagues have devised a novel Tin(Sn)-based material which displays selective and efficient removal of Tc under conditions similar to those found in nuclear waste tanks. The approach taken relies on the inclusion of both Sn(II) and Sn(IV) within an inert aluminophosphate matrix. The low-valent form of tin is known for its ability of reducing Tc(VII) to Tc(IV), whereas the high-valent Sn(IV) was chosen for its ability to form SnO2 phases capable of accommodating the resulting Tc(IV) and thus facilitate its sequestration.

Representative SEM images of the Sn–Al–PO4 composite (A) before and (B) after exposure to TcO4 − .

The material labelled Sn-Al-PO4 could be easily made from common laboratory chemicals and in this study was characterised by a number of analytical techniques investigating both the bulk and surface properties. It consists of two distinct phases:

  1. An amorphous Sn-based matrix containing the majority of the aluminium.  This material has a large surface area and contains predominantly Sn(II), a combination of properties expected to yield efficient reduction of pertechnetate from the solution medium.
  2. Small embedded fibres of crystalline material with the composition dominated by Sn and phosphate.

The full article is free to access for a limited time only:

Inorganic tin aluminophosphate nanocomposite for reductive separation of pertechnetate Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00130K

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About the webwriter

Dan Mercea is a PhD student in the Fuchter group at Imperial College London. He is working on developing enantioselective FLP catalysis.

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*Access is free until 19th October 2016 through a registered RSC account – register here

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Top 10 Reviewers for Environmental Science: Nano

In celebration of Peer Review Week, with the theme of Recognition for Review – we would like to highlight the top 10 reviewers for Environmental Science: Nano in 2016, as selected by the editor for their significant contribution to the journal.

Name Institution
Dr Armand Masion CEREGE
Professor Debora Rodrigues University of Houston
Dr Ralf Kägi EAWAG
Dr Arturo Keller University of California, Satan Barbara
Dr Anne Anderson Utah State University
Dr Leanne Gilbertson University of Pittsburgh
Dr Nathalie Tufenkji McGill University
Dr Navid Saleh University of Texas at Austin
Dr Serge Stoll University of Geneva
Dr Jeffrey Nason Oregon State University

We would like to say a massive thank you to these reviewers as well as the Environmental Science: Nano board and all of the environmental chemistry community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

Keep an eye on our Environmental Science: Processes& Impacts and Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology blogs where the top 10 reviewers for each journal will be revealed.

Review to win!
As a little added bonus to celebrate Peer Review Week, for the next four weeks our reviewers will be in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize! Simply submit a review for any of our journals between 19 September and 16 October 2016 and you will be automatically eligible for a chance to win one of our fantastic prizes.

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Radioactive technetium waste tinned

Written by Liisa Niitsoo for Chemistry World

Tin nanocomposite mops up nuclear waste contaminant.

Scientists have developed a tin-containing material that captures and stores radioactive technetium.

Scanning electron microscopy images show the tin-aluminophosphate’s structural change after exposure (right) to pertechnetate. Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Pertechnetate (99TcO4-) is a splitting product of uranium-235 and plutonium-239 and a radioactive nuclear waste contaminant. Technetium’s 213,000-year-long half-life and pertechnetate’s high solubility in water mean that the radioactive element can contaminate water supplies, enter the food chain and accumulate in animals’ and humans’ vital organs. Cold war activities and the Manhattan Project generated 99Tc in high quantities, and nuclear reactors as well as the Sellafield plant used to release this radioactive contaminant.

Tatiana Levitskaia, Sayandev Chatterjee and their team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, US, have now synthesised a tin-aluminium-phosphate nanocomposite that removes and captures technetium from nuclear waste. The material reduces pertechnetate to the less water soluble Tc(IV), and at the same time changes its structure to capture and retain the reduced technetium.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Inorganic tin aluminophosphate nanocomposite for reductive separation of pertechnetate

Tatiana G. Levitskaia, Sayandev Chatterjee, Natasha K. Pence, Jesus Romero, Tamas Varga, Mark H. Engelhard, Yingge Du, Libor Kovarik, Bruce W. Arey, Mark E. Bowden and Eric D. Walter

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00130K, Paper

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Metal micronutrients get to the root of antifungal defence

Written by Richard Massey for Chemistry World

Flavoursome tomato varieties could benefit from nanoparticle fertilisers.

heirloom tomato

Tasty heirloom tomato varieties could soon see a return to our plates thanks to the promising antifungal properties of metal oxide nanoparticle fertilisers developed by US scientists.

Centuries of plant breeding mean we’ve grown accustomed to a narrow range of crops bred primarily for their disease resistance. But while we reap the benefits of greater yields and reliability, we’re missing out on a host of different flavours from less disease-hardy varieties.

Now a nanoparticle crop treatment developed by Wade Elmer and Jason White at Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, US, could give older tomato varieties – more susceptible to root pathogens such as wilt fungus – a helping hand. Applying copper and manganese oxide nanoparticles to the leaves of tomato plants grown in soil infected with the Verticillium wilt fungus increased fruit yields by up to 33% compared with untreated plants.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Wade H. Elmer and Jason C. White
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00146G, Paper
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Earth, wind and the sun = gold?

an article by Dan Mercea, PhD student at Imperial College London

Graphical Abstract

The precious element gold can exist in various forms, the most thought of probably being the shiny solid treasured for its aesthetic qualities. However, a number of other relevant forms exist not just in the chemistry laboratory but also in nature. Gold in its common oxidation states (I and III) can be found in water sources in the environment at appreciable concentrations. The coexistence of natural organic matter (NOM) and gold dissolved in surface water opens up the possibility for photoproduction of gold nanoparticles (AuNP), a form of gold which displays toxicity towards aquatic organisms and is prone to becoming distributed through the food chain upon ingestion.

In this Environmental Science: Nano paper entitled Aqueous photoproduction of Au nanoparticles by natural organic matter: effect of NaBH4 reduction the authors’ attention is focused on investigating what NOM functionality is involved in AuNP formation, and which mechanism is being facilitated by its presence. Samples of NOM from various sources were included in the study and characterised using their content of carbonyl, quinone and aliphatic functionality. Samples with a large percentage of the former two showed an enhanced ability for AuNP production under simulated sunlight conditions, whereas a large content of the latter afforded inferior performance in this respect. In order to test whether this oxygen-containing functionality was responsibile for the facile production of AuNPs a selective chemical reducing agent, sodium borohydride (NaBH4), was chosen to remove it from the NOM samples. This modification led to Au3+ reduction by NOM being observed, albeit at a much slower rate, which confirmed the importance of the carbonyl functionality and suggested that other functionality in the NOM was ultimately responsible for performing reduction.

One way in which the carbonyl functionality could accelerate the photoreduction process is by acting as a convenient electron source following the absorption of light, with the molecular oxygen/superoxide radical pair acting as an electron shuffle between the NOM and the gold cations. Formation of the superoxide radical on irradiation of NOM solutions was followed using electron paramagnetic resonance both before and after NaBH4 treatment. Elimination of the carbonyl functionality hindered formation of the superoxide radical, however a correlation between superoxide concentration and AuNP formation rate could not be established. To test whether the superoxide radical was involved in the nanoparticle formation process, the enzyme superoxide dysmutase was added. The enzyme efficiently removed the superoxide radical, which led to an expected decrease in rate. These observations helped support the operation of the indirect reduction mechanism, however not to the dismissal of alternatives. Indeed another mechanism which is believed to operate in parallel is based on the charge transfer from the NOM directly to the gold cations in complexes formed between the two (the charge transfer mechanism).

Experiments carried out with model substrates of aromatic ketones and quinones further supported the role that had been ascribed to the carbonyl functionality. Aromatic ketones proved superior over the quinoid model compounds in the generation of nanoparticles, as faster reduction was achieved even at much lower substrate concentration and indicated that NOM quinones played only a secondary role in the production of AuNPs. Noteworthy was the decrease in photoreduction rate observed upon NaBH4 treatment of quinones, which indicated that the resulting phenolic functionality was not responsible for photoreduction as had been previously believed.

Jiahai Ma and co-authors from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering have shaped our understanding for the central role that the aromatic ketone functionality in natural organic matter plays in the photoproduction of gold nanoparticles in the aquatic environment.

Read the full article for free*:

Aqueous photoproduction of Au nanoparticles by natural organi matter: effect of NaBH4 reduction
Zilu Liu, Pengfei Xie and Jiahai Ma
Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00126B, Paper

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About the webwriter

Dan Mercea is a PhD student in the Fuchter group at Imperial College London. He is working on developing enantioselective FLP catalysis.

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*Access is free until 24/08/2016 through a registed RSC account – register here

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25th Japan Society for Environmental Chemistry

The 25th Japan Society for Environmental Chemistry Annual Meeting was held in Niigata, Japan on 8-10 June 2016.

During the award ceremony Hiromitsu Urakami from the Royal Society of Chemistry presented several certificates to poster prize winners on behalf of our environmental science journals.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Environmental Science: Nano winner:

Kosuke Tanaka, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

Poster title: Concentration of persistent organic pollutants in microplastics from marine surface water and evaluation of the risk of ingestion by marine organisms

And the winners for the Environmental Science: Process & Impacts and Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology poster prizes were Tomohiko Nakano and Suzumi Nishimura. More details can be found on our  ES: Processes & Impacts and ES:Water blogs.

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Introducing our new Associate Editor

Iseult Lynch joins the Environmental Science: Nano team as Associate Editor

We are delighted to introduce Iseult Lynch as a new Associate Editor for Environmental Science: Nano.

Iseult joins Greg Lowry and Kristin Schirmer as Associate Editors handling submissions to the journal.

Iseult Lynch is a physical chemist specialising in understanding the interface between engineered nanomaterials and the environment (biotic and abiotic components) and how this determines their ultimate fate and behaviour.

Dr Lynch has been actively involved in research to elucidate the mechanisms involved in potential toxicity of nanomaterials, including being centrally involved in the pioneering studies regarding the nanoparticle-protein corona, for which she received the US National Academy of Sciences Cozzarelli Prize for 2007 (with her co-authors).

She is currently applying these concepts to assessing nanomaterial behaviour in more complex environments and whole organisms, looking for example at the role of secreted proteins and polysaccharides as well as dissolved organic matter in determining nanomaterials environmental fate, transformation and biouptake. Her expertise spans nanomaterials synthesis, characterisation and environmental interactions (biomolecules, cells, organisms).

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Please join us in welcoming Iseult to Environmental Science: Nano.

Iseult has recently published a review in Environmental Science: Nano, read it here.

Interested in the latest news, research and events of the Environmental Science journals? Find us on Twitter: @EnvSciRSC

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Silver nanoparticles lost in the first wash

An Environmental Science: Nano article highlighted in Chemistry World by Florence Greatrix

Scientists in Switzerland have discovered that more silver nanoparticles in clothing are released the first time they are washed than when they are sent to landfill.

Manufacturers add nanosilver to textiles to kill odour-causing bacteria © Shutterstock

Nanosilver’s antimicrobial properties often see it added to textiles, including socks and sportswear. Making, washing and disposing of the clothing can release the silver into the environment. Despite posing a low risk to humans, silver ions are toxic to many aquatic organisms and can accumulate in the food chain.

Commenting on the work, Amro El Badawy, an environmental engineer at California Polytechnic University, US, says:  ‘Deciphering the mechanisms of transformations of nanomaterials under the experimental conditions is key to our ability to predict any environmental implications – this work gets us closer to achieving this goal.’

Read the full ChemistryWorld article here.

Durability of nano-enhanced textiles through the life cycle: releases from landfilling after washing*
Denise M Mitrano, Pawena Limpiteeprakan, Sandhya Babel and Bernd Nowack
Environ. Sci.: Nano
, 2016, Accepted Manuscript
DOI:
10.1039/C6EN00023A

*Access is free through a registered RSC account until 11 May 2016 – click here to register

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Modelling in Environmental Nanotechnology

An Environmental Science: Nano themed collection

We are delighted to announce the publication of a themed collection on Modelling in Environmental Nanotechnology, guest edited by Mohammed Baalousha (University of South Carolina, US), Panos Georgopoulos (Rutgers University, US), Jamie Lead (University of South Carolina, US) and Dave Spurgeon (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK).

This collection of papers presents state-of-the-art models for the fate, behaviour, exposure, uptake and toxicity of nanomaterials in the environment and in organisms, as well as a wide range of model types for environmental and biological processes affecting nanomaterial behaviour.

Read the full collection today: http://rsc.li/modelling

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