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Scientists change properties of zeolites to improve hemodialysis

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Scientists of Tomsk State University are working on changing physicochemical properties of zeolites using thermal and mechanical treatment. Based on the results of this research the scientists will be able to create a new material for a portable device for hemodialysis.

The scientists examined synthetic zeolite powder manufactured by SAPO-34 and natural zeolite of Tokay deposits (Hungary)

Synthetic powder was processed in a ball mill. Spin rate was 150 rotations per minute, processing time varied between 1 and 96 hours. Prior and after the processing the powder underwent thermal treatment. As a result material's specific surface area shrank from 506 m2/g to 102 m2/g (after 96-hour-long mechanical activation and a 1000Co annealing).

Natural zeolite of Tokay deposits underwent mechanical activation in a ball mill during 1-600 minutes. As a result of the activation mineral composition of zeolite changed: smectite, clinoptilolite, calcite, and cristobalite contents decreased several times while quartz and orthoclase contents increased. Specific surface area increased.

Natural zeolites are hard alumosilicates, that is why finding the most appropriate chopping technology is important to increase specific surface area, -says Alexander Buzimov, M.A. student in the faculty of Physics and Engineering. -Changing the specific surface area using mechanical treatment is aimed at changing properties of zeolites.

When they will have learnt to control zeolite's properties, the scientists plan to combine the mineral with nanoceramics which is manufactured by the scientists of the Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences and Tomsk State University, and thus produce a new gradient material. Thus, manufactured composite sieve will become the main part of the portable device for hemodialysis.

High-porous ceramics with desired pore size ranging from nano to macro is already produced by the scientists of Tomsk State University, Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Fraunhofer ICT (Germany), and University of Miskolc (Hungary). With these universities TSU has long-term agreements. The team includes both experienced scientists and students, – says Sergey Kulkov, professor of TSU.

Zeolite with high specific surface area provides effective moisture absorption. The device will be connected to a shunt, which is implanted under the skin of the patient. The blood will circulate through the composite sieve and will be cleaned.

The scientists hope to get the new material in a year, whereas the first device will be created in two years.

"Main advantage of this device is its portability. Nowadays, some analogs of traditional devices for hemodialysis are available, but all of them require the procedure to be performed in a hospital, so people are bound to their place of residence. With the new device, patients will be able to go even on a long journey. Hemodialysis can be then done at home and in an emergency situation," said Alexander Buzimov.

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The project is carried out by The Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science of the Russian Academy of Sciences, faculty of Physics and Engineering of Tomsk State University, Fraunhofer ICT (Germany), and University of Miskolc (Hungary).

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Tatiana Arsenyeva
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