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Orange Peel Can Clean Oceans of Mercury

Researchers have created a new materiel from orange peel that could clean the oceans from mercury

Mercury contamination is just one of the many pollutants the oceans have to deal with, but researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide South Australia have found a novel way of removing this particular environmental nasty.

The researchers have created a new material made of industrial waste and unwanted orange peel that can suck mercury out of water. The plastic-like substance is made entirely from sulphur and limonene, industrial waste products that are widely available around the world. In the petroleum industry alone there are more than 70 million tonnes of sulphur produced each year, while the citrus industry produces 70 thousand tonnes of limonene, found mainly in orange peel.

The new material, known as a sulphur-limonene polysulfide, bonds to mercury and changes colour, making it helpful in removing the toxic pollutant, and as a mercury sensor. 

Mercury pollution occurs as a consequence of a number of industrial activities, and contaminates seafood and fish. It also compromises the reproductive health of birds and fish. The researchers say that, because the sulphur-limonene polysulfide is not toxic and is very cheap, they hope to use it in large-scale environmental clean-up efforts. 

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