Volcanoes and electronics have more in common than you might think

When considering the electronics manufacturing process, water is hardly at the top of the list of raw materials. That may soon change with Discovery Scientists from the University of Tsukuba. In a study published in Journal of Water Chemistry and Technology They described using volcanic spring water to produce plastics, an essential part of many modern technologies.

Volcanoes and green chemistry

It is specifically polyaniline (PANI), a polymer commonly used in photovoltaics, light-emitting diodes, gas-emitting films and anti-corrosion materials. Millions of square meters of PANI are used for a variety of purposes each year, so there are many benefits to making it in the most sustainable solvent.

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Most of the known solvents used in the production of PANI are toxic and not compatible with mass production processes for the devices. One of the few viable options is ethanol.

a. Hiromasa Goto of the University of Tsukuba says:

We recently reported the use of ethanol, with the addition of a small amount of iodine, in the preparation of polyaniline. However, water is the environmentally friendly solvent and thus would be a better choice.

Unfortunately, pure water is not suitable, because an acid and an oxidizing agent are required to convert aniline to polyaniline. What would happen if I used water that already contains some additives instead of pure water? Volcanic spring water is ideal because it is full of sulfate and mineral ions, providing the right environment for polymerization. The Japanese scientists decided to test it on three different samples: PANI, PANI nanoscale particles, and PANI/silk composites. Nothing special was done to them, just flipping for several hours at 0onc

Read also: Volcanoes have caused mass extinctions in the past. But for a different reason than we think

a. Hieromas Goto adds:

Scanning electron microscopy indicates that each strand of the produced silk fabric was coated with PANI and that the shape of the fibers did not change. In this way, we have developed a simple method for preparing fabrics that can conduct electricity.

Various modifications can be made to the process described and trace elements, such as iodine, removed. Experts argue that preparing PANI in this way is perhaps one of the most “ecological” methods known to us. After all, there is nothing more natural than mixing substances in volcanic spring water at a low temperature. There is no waste oil and there is no danger of uncontrolled combustion, so this process can be seen as a manifestation of the idea of ​​green chemistry.

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