TSU chemists invented a simple and cheap test system for the detection of heavy metals in liquids

Tomsk State University scientists have developed a new technology for visual rapid determination of the presence of chemical elements in aqueous solutions. First of all, we are talking about the identification of heavy metals: cobalt, copper, nickel, and manganese.

As an indicator scientists ordinarily use sorbent to reduce water hardness. The diagnostic technology is based on the properties of the sorbent painted in a characteristic color upon absorption of some metal ions from а solution. If a solution containing a mixture of ions passes through a tube filled with sorbent, with the process of absorption the colored zones will be divided.

The area of application of the test system is wide: ecologists can use it for monitoring natural water and wastewater, services of Ministry of Extraordinary Situations can use it for assessing the situation in the case of natural and man-made disasters, and industrial plants can use it for the analysis of technical systems, sewage treatment plants, and others.

- In comparison with similar products our technology has several advantages - said Valentina Zharkova, one of the developers, a graduate of TSU’s Faculty of Chemistry. - First of all, it is a simple and cheap method. Analysis is possible in virtually any environment, without any complex laboratory equipment or highly qualified specialists. It’s enough to pass analyzed aqueous solution through the test and indicator tube, and evaluate the result using our calibration scale.

Unlike counterparts requiring the use of additional reagents, the test system developed at TSU can work without them. Moreover, it is able to identify more than one chemical element at their joint presence in the liquid.

In the near future, scientists of the Department of Inorganic Chemistry, led by Professor Vladimir Kozik, plan to significantly enhance the ability of the test system and increase the range of metal ions that it may determine, among them some rare-earth elements and iron.