Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University have developed a device for the rapid analysis of liquids on the content of hazardous substances – such as heavy metals. Polytechnicers use a method based on polymer optodes – very small plastic matrices that can be made sensitive to specific substances by means of special reagents. The matrices change color and its intensity depending on the concentration of the substance. Being portable, the device can carry out analysis in situ even at low temperatures, and its cost is many times less than the price of a spectrophotometer – the most used device for chemical analysis.
“The device is based on polymethacrylate sensors – transparent pieces of plastic with thickness of 1 mm and a size of 3×3 mm. The pores of matrices serve as receptacles, where various chemical reactions can undergo. If a matrix is handled with a special reagent it becomes an optode sensitive to a particular substance. We plunge this optode into the water to test it or simply drip a few drops on it, and it changes its color. Hence, there is a required element.
The more intense the color is, the higher is the concentration of the substance,”
– says Sergey Muravyov, the scientific head of the project, head of the TPU International Laboratory of Advanced Measurements.
For example, if water contains silver optode turns purple-red. According to the scientist, such a method can detect substances even at very low concentrations in water.
“You dip optode into the water and then load it into the device analyzer. There a special electronic device receives optical signal and converts it into an electric three-channel RGB-signal.
After this signal processing the device outputs the data in digital form on the concentration of the searched substance. The analysis takes place immediately,”
– says the project manager.
This method allows the detection of almost all metals, organic materials and various pharmacological agents in water.
“Our method works with those substances with which interaction leads to color change. Indeed, this is not the whole range of substances. But universal methods do not exist. Today, the most widely used method for chemical analysis is spectrophotometry. A modern spectrophotometer costs about 500 thousand rubles, and it is a bulky stationary device. Our device can achieve the same quality of measurements, but it is compact and can cost about 30 thousand rubles at the market placement,” – he says.
Such a device for rapid analysis is useful for environmental and related services personnel of industrial enterprises. For example, oil companies can use the device for the determination of the tracers in the drilling fluid.
“To date, we have prepared a prototype device, – says Sergey Muravyov. – Now we have set ourselves the task to use this method for a multi-component analysis. The fact is that the reagents that configure optode to a definite substance are sensitive to a few substances.”
Young scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University are developing a robotic arm prototype and its control algorithm using myoelectric signals. The mechanical limb will independently recognize the motions of its owner and be able to do all the same motions like a healthy arm. The scientists estimate the final cost of the device of between $600 to $1,000 USD.
According to the developers – fellows at the Laboratory of Medical Instrument-Making, the Institute of Non-Destructive Testing – Mikhail Grigoriev, Nikita Turushev and Evgeniy Tarakanets, the manufacturing of human prosthetic limbs has been available for a few decades. But to make them functional, translate them into a full replacement of a lost body part is still impossible.
“To date, there are quite available traction prostheses. Their movement is carried out by means of traction belts which are superimposed from the repaired arm across the back as loop around of the healthy shoulder. That is the prosthesis acts by movements of a healthy arm. The drawbacks of this type are in need of unnatural body motions to control it,”
– says Nikita Turushev.
The university was founded in 1896 and opened in 1900 as the Tomsk Technological Institute. In 1923, the school was renamed the Siberian Technological Institute and in 1930, the institute was split into five divisions, three of which remained in Tomsk. In 1934, the three institutes in Tomsk reunited to form a new institute that would be named the Tomsk Polytechnic Institute. The university has more than 22,000 current students and has graduated more than 100,000 technical specialists.
During the existence of nuclear power industry a large number of channel uranium-graphite nuclear power reactors was built across the world. Only Russia operates 4 units of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, 4 units of Kursk NPP, 3 units of Smolensk NPP and 4 units of Bilibino NPP. Also, 13 industrial uranium-graphite reactors were built (IUGR) have been built. To date, they all are on the output stage of the operation or decommissioning preparation. While, approximately 250,000 tons of irradiated graphite are accumulated in the world, including ~ 60,000 tons in Russia. Due to the specificity of irradiated graphite the treatment of this type of radioactive waste has not been determined yet.
At the moment, the problem of irradiated nuclear graphite has been partially solved only for a select group of industrial uranium-graphite reactors. This is possible by referring graphite waste to “special waste”. Thus, in September 2015 it was successfully completed a pilot project to establish a point of long-term preservation of special waste at the site of the industrial uranium-graphite nuclear EI-2 reactor. To implement this project the experts of JSC “PD UGRC” developed and patented the unique technology of IUGR output of operation. For a long time they together with leading institutions (IPCE RAS, NIKIET OKBM, MEPI, VNIINM, Institute of Nuclear Power Plant and others) have conducted R & D to develop techniques and technical solutions to treat graphite waste.
However, this technology is not applicable for most reactors
“From these reactors it is necessary to extract graphite, then process to remove the most active radionuclides. Therefore, it is required to develop technologies, devices and hardware systems to reduce radioactive waste activity, which will make disposal of graphite economically profitable,” explains Evgeniy Bespala, a PhD student from the Department of Technical Physics. – Disposal of different classes of waste has a different price: the price for disposal of high-level, intermediate-level and low-level waste differs enormously. If we reduce the amount of radioactive nuclides in reactor graphite, the cost of its disposal will be economically feasible.