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Technology for Removal of Heavy Metals and Arsenic from Juice


<P>The overarching goal of the proposed research is to determine the technical feasibility and assess the commercialization potential of the use of novel sorbents for removal of heavy metals and arsenic from juice. In Phase 1 we will synthesize the various sorbent materials and test them for removing heavy metals and arsenic from juice. We will obtain capacity and kinetic information that will be utilized in Phase II for scale-up to pilot scale and then to commercial scale. We will also demonstrate that the treatment process does not add any extraneous species into the juice. Also, several juice quality measurements will be made in Phase 1 to ensure that there is no deleterious effects on the juice. This will be expanded upon in Phase II where the full nutritional, compositional, and taste profiles of the treated juices will be investigated. There is a strong need for novel highly efficient, low-cost, and selective methods for removal of heavy metals and arsenic from juice. The public will benefit from an ensured supply of nutrition juice that is devoid of harmful contaminants. Treatment costs are projected to be only a few cents or less per liter. </P>

More information

<P>NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The discovery that many fruit juices and brown rice syrup contain significant concentrations of arsenic or heavy metals such as lead and cadmium has raised concern amongst the public, government regulators, and food and juice producers. This contamination occurs both from natural and anthropogenic sources such as industrial pollution, arsenical herbicides and pesticides etc. While the levels of the contaminants are sufficiently low to not result in acute poisoning, chronic exposure at levels above those deemed unsafe by the EPA may result in health problems. In particular, young nervous systems are markedly sensitive to heavy metal exposure. Juice purification is extremely challenging since it is a complex blend of nutrients, minerals, flavors, polyphenols, antioxidants, etc. It is very difficult to remove the undesirable species and leave the beneficial ones untouched. The high acidity of juice (e.g. apple juice pH is 3.35 - 4.00 and grape juice pH is 3.4-3.8) also makes purification a challenge since many of the technologies for treating water fail at low pH or result in the dissolution of the sorbents in the juice. Therefore, there is a strong need for novel highly efficient, low-cost, and selective methods for removal of toxic metals and arsenic from juice. Such technologies are the target of this proposal. XploSafe's proposed technology includes a mineral that exchanges a healthy, beneficial ion (calcium) very selectively for the heavy metal. These mineral have a high capacity for heavy metals. Unlike heavy metals, arsenic is present in juice as inorganic or organic oxides that are usually anionic thus the treatment method must be different. XploSafe has developed a metal oxide/gelatin composite that has high affinity for arsenic (as arsenite, arsenate, methylarsenate, and dimethylarsenate), performs well at pH as low as 3.0, and can be readily synthesized in the form of beads for columns that rapidly remove arsenic from juice. Overall, the proposed solution for removal of heavy metals and arsenic from juice are low-cost, easy to operate, minimize production of undesirable residuals and energy use, and can facilely produce juice that is nutritious and safe for consumption by the public. The proposed research will ensure that the new technologies do not add any foreign or deleterious materials into the juice and that they do not alter the nutrition or quality of the juice. The Phase I research will determine the capacity and rate of uptake of lead, cadmium, and arsenic species from juice and form the basis for scaling to pilot and commercial scale in Phase II (in collaboration with a juice processing company). The product will be extremely beneficial to juice processors, juice packers and juice blenders. Producers and processors of rice products such as brown or white rice, rice cakes, rice milk, rice syrup etc. and producers of baby foods stand to benefit from the proposed technology. </P>

Pitchimani, Rajasekar
XploSafe, LLC
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