Ra & Ur Article: Brent Stewart - Applications Engineer

Radium is silvery, lustrous, soft, intensely radioactive. It readily oxidizes on exposure to air, turning from almost pure white to black. Radium is luminescent, corrodes in water to form radium hydroxide. Although is the heaviest member of the alkaline-earth group it is the most volatile. Radium is used in luminous paint (in the form of radium bromide). Radium and beryllium were once used as a portable source of neutrons. Radium is used in medicine to produce radon gas, used for cancer treatment. At the beginning of the 19th century radium was used as additive in products like toothpaste, hair creams and even food items. It has been estimated that each square kilometer of the earth surface (to a depth of 40 cm) contains 1 gram of radium. Early in the twentieth century radium was extracted from uranium ores for use in luminous dials and medical treatment. The amount of radium in uranium ores varies between 150 and 350 mg/ton. The most in contained in the ores of Zaire and Canada. Radium is naturally present in the environment in very small amounts. Because of that we are always exposed to radium and to small amounts of radiation that it releases into the environment. Radium levels in the environment have greatly increased as a result of human activity. Humans release radium into the environment by burning coal and other fuels. Radium levels in drinking water may be high when it is extracted from deep wells that are located near radioactive waste disposal sites.

For further details about Radium, visit our website: http://www.pure-aqua.com/ra-radium.html Uranium is a hard, dense, malleable, ductile, silver-white, radioactive metal. Uranium metal has very high density. When finely divided, it can react with cold water. In air it is coated by uranium oxide, tarnishing rapidly. It is attacked by steam and acids. Uranium can form solids solutions and intermetallic compounds with many of the metals. Uranium gained importance with the development of practical uses of nuclear energy. Depleted uranium is used as shelding to protect tanks, and also in bullets and missiles. The first atomic bomb used in warfare was an uranium bomb. This bomb contained enough of the uramium-235 isotope to start a runaway chain reaction which in a fraction of a second caused a large number of the uranium atoms to undergo fission, there by releasing a fireball of energy. The main use of uranium in the civilian sector is to fuel commercial nuclear power plants. This require uranium to be enriched with the uranium-235 isotope and the chain reaction to be controlled so that the energy is released in a more manageable way.

The isotope uranium 238 is used to estimate the age of the earliest igneous rocks and for other types of radiometric dating. Phosphate fertilizers are made from material typically high in uranium, so they usually contain high amounts of it. Although uranium is radioactive, it is not particularly rare. It is widely spread throughout the environment and so it is impossible to avoid uranium. Uranium can be found naturally in the environment in very small amounts in rocks, soil, air and water. Humans add uranium metals and compounds, because they are released during mining and milling processes. Erosion of tailing from mines and mills may cause larger amounts of uranium to be released into the environment. For further details about Uranium, visit our website: http://www.pure-aqua.com/u-uranium.html

There are a number of technologies to remove radium and uranium. Radium is similar calcium and magnesium (hardness ions) in that it is a divalent cation. Therefore the same technologies that work for harndess removal are effective for radium removal. Ion exchange, specifically cation exchange is 65-95% effective while lime softening is between 80-95%. Uranium is pH dependent, it exists as a anion above a pH of 7. There are a number of technologies for the removal from water including: coagulant/filtration, lime softening, activated alumina adsorption and anion exchange. The advantage of RO technology is it is up to 99% effective in removing both Uranium and Radium. Ion exchange would require both cation and anion exchangers, plus the handling and disposing issues related to harsh chemicals. Pure Aqua, Inc. specializes in RO technology, to see Pure Aqua’s standard line of packaged RO equipment visit our website: http://www.pureaqua.com/reverse-osmosis-systems.html. Pure Aqua manufactured and supplied a an industrial pilot unit to a major water treatment company in Saudi Arabia for the removal of radium and uranium from brackish water, complete with pre and post treatment equipment using advanced PLC control panel and colored touch panel. The system was supplied in 2009 and the capacity was 74,000 GPD. See the following link for a video of the project: http://www.pure-aqua.com/videos.html?axn=play&id=31

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