Pioneering method in the evaluation of nitrate pollution

March 15, 2016, Asociacion RUVID
Credit: Vicente Marti-Centelles, UJI

A postdoctoral researcher at the Universitat Jaume I has designed an innovative model for the selective recognition of nitrates, which is big news for the prevention of environmental pollution. The idea, developed by Vicente Martí-Centelles during a postdoctoral research stay at the University of Oxford, has been published in the prestigious journal Chemistry-A European Journal.

The article describes the preparation of a sensor that can selectively detect the nitrate anion over all other anions, such as phosphate. The nitrate anion is a pollutant molecule found in fertilisers and, therefore, the we drink and in rivers. At high levels, it is harmful to health and the environment. As a result of the blanket use of fertilisers in agriculture, the abundance of the nitrate anion has caused the alteration of the natural aquatic ecosystem. Moreover, water with elevated nitrate levels is thought to cause diseases such as methaemoglobinemia, also known as blue baby syndrome in infants, a disorder characterised by an abnormal accumulation of haemoglobin.

The method proposed by Martí-Centelles paves the way for nitrate detection in water samples in different contexts, environmental or medical, to check for high levels and take preventive measures, where necessary. It is a ground-breaking model, with a purpose-designed that homes in on this pollutant.

This chemical structure is the first step towards an efficient recognition of nitrates and could find applications in the development of nitrate detection systems such as filters to remove these pollutants from water sources. Martí-Centelles explains: "User-friendly systems are possible where the molecule changes colour in the presence of nitrates, and even water filter systems similar to those that use resins that remove calcium from water. By including molecules based on our prototype, we can filter this nitrate from water, too."

The research was carried out during a postdoctoral stay at the University of Oxford, supervised by Prof. Paul D. Beer, as part of the Generalitat Valenciana's VALi+d funding programme. It has been endorsed by UJI professor of organic chemistry, Santiago Luis Lafuente. The various stages were completed at Universitat Jaume I and the University of Oxford. Martí-Centelles also completed an industrial placement at Biotics at Espaitec, the Jaume I Science, Technology and Business Park, and completed his doctoral thesis at the UJI's Supramolecular and Sustainable Chemistry research group, led by Santiago Luis Lafuente.

Explore further: Fertilizer applied to fields today will pollute water for decades

More information: Vicente Martí-Centelles et al. Nitrate Anion Recognition in Organic-Aqueous Solvent Mixtures by a Bis(triazolium)acridine-Containing [2]Rotaxane, Chemistry - A European Journal (2015). DOI: 10.1002/chem.201406066

Related Stories

Tracing nitrate in watersheds

March 15, 2013

Plants need nitrogen to grow, and nitrate is a common fertilizer ingredient, but high levels of nitrate contamination in drinking water sources can cause health problems. It is generally known that nitrogen flows through ...

Is your drinking water safe?

February 28, 2008

Lake Bloomington is a major source of drinking water for residents of Bloomington, IL, and has a history of nitrate concentrations that exceed safe levels. Because Lake Bloomington has a record of elevated nitrate levels, ...

'Frightening' findings foretell ills for ecosystems

February 12, 2016

When it comes to determining the causes negatively affecting the biodiversity of our ecosystems, a new interdisciplinary study at Western is putting numbers behind the devastation. And it's not good.

Recommended for you

Galactic center visualization delivers star power

March 21, 2019

Want to take a trip to the center of the Milky Way? Check out a new immersive, ultra-high-definition visualization. This 360-movie offers an unparalleled opportunity to look around the center of the galaxy, from the vantage ...

Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous

March 21, 2019

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of ...

Physicists reveal why matter dominates universe

March 21, 2019

Physicists in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University have confirmed that matter and antimatter decay differently for elementary particles containing charmed quarks.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.