Science News

Banana skins stop metal ions from slipping away

Sun, 13th Mar 2011

Chris Smith

A group of Brazilian researchers led by Renata Castro, have found that the classic comedy banana skin is actually very effective at removing heavy metal ions like copper and lead from water.

When you have heavy metals building up in water systems from run off of building works, industrial sites and factories, they can be harmful to wildlife, so we need to be common form of eating a bananaable to remove them from the water. There are already several products used to do this, based on chemicals like activated carbon and silica – which is that stuff you get in those tiny white bags when you buy a handbag or a wallet. The silica based compounds are good because they have high surface reactivity and they can be reused several times. But they are expensive and use harmful solvents to make.

This isn’t the first time that natural waste products have been investigated – things like sugar cane fibres and peanut shells have been used in the past, but compared to the standard metal extraction compounds, they’re not very effective.

Castro and his team used minced banana peel and tested how well it extracted lead and copper ions that had been dissolved in water. They found that it was almost as effective at removing the ions as the currently used silica standard, and at least twice as effective as other natural products like sawdust. It was also able to be used up to 11 times without losing its ion-removing power.

So although this is just a study demonstrating that banana peels can be effective, it shows that there are natural products that can be effective, and so could be a good alternative in poorer areas, and with more research maybe even more widely.

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Doc do you think they could they assit in taking radioactive materials out of the sea? Wiybit, Sun, 27th Mar 2011


It likely could pick up some...

However, if you think about straw...  it is reasonably good at picking up oil.  But, then it is a pain to deal with.

Likewise, you couldn't just dump bananas in toe ocean, but would have to incorporate them as part of an active filtration system.

In Japan, if a small amount of radiation is released into sea water, and remains dissolved in the sea water, it will get dispersed quickly and will reach background radiation levels shortly after the contamination stops.  However, some will undoubtedly be incorporated into shellfish and reefs, and could potentially endure for years, in which case, the bananas would have little benefit.  But, even so, over time even the minerals that were sequestered in marine life will dissolve again, and become dispersed. 



CliffordK, Sun, 27th Mar 2011


It likely could pick up some...

However, if you think about straw...  it is reasonably good at picking up oil.  But, then it is a pain to deal with.

Likewise, you couldn't just dump bananas in toe ocean, but would have to incorporate them as part of an active filtration system.

In Japan, if a small amount of radiation is released into sea water, and remains dissolved in the sea water, it will get dispersed quickly and will reach background radiation levels shortly after the contamination stops.  However, some will undoubtedly be incorporated into shellfish and reefs, and could potentially endure for years, in which case, the bananas would have little benefit.  But, even so, over time even the minerals that were sequestered in marine life will dissolve again, and become dispersed. 






It would have some benefit, currently levels are stated to be a 1000 times normal, banana skins are waste, if we could use them in a retrievable way. maybe putting lots of cages or baskets of banana skins into the effected area, hopefully it could reduce the long term damage, not stop it completely but aleast reduce it.

What to do with the banana skins afterwards it another issue but if they held the material or absored it while in the water leaving them there for a while might be alright, while we figure out what to do with them afterwards. Wiybit, Sun, 27th Mar 2011

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