The Science of Nclear
Nclear was created to naturally, quickly, safely, and cost-effectively remove excess P and N from surface water bodies.
Basis for the Origin and Chemistry of Nclear:
It is well known that a variety of naturally occurring minerals, such as clay minerals that are commonly present at the bottom of lakes, ponds, and other surface water bodies possess varying degrees of net electrical charges, either negative or positive. By virtue of these net charges, they will attract oppositely charged molecules and bond together to form a different chemical molecule (ionic bond). Some of these chemical molecules can possess a very weak or partial ionic bond, and others can possess a very strong ionic bond.
The strength of the ionic bond can be calculated using the Born-Landé equation as the sum of the electrostatic potential energy, calculated by summing interactions between cat ions and anions, and a short range repulsive potential energy term. The electrostatic potential (Electronegativity) can be expressed in terms of the inter-ionic separation and a constant (Madelung constant) that takes account of the geometry of the crystal.
The strength of the bond between a sorbent (e.g., clay mineral) and a sorbate (e.g., phosphate) depends on a variety of factors. These factors include the structural configuration or geometric shape, including surface area of the solid phase and the zero point of charge of the solid phase (which is pH dependent) involved. In general, the larger the surface area, coupled with the strength of the electrical charge, the more it will attract and cause an ionic bond to an oppositely charged and suspended molecule. The stronger the opposite electrostatic charges are, the stronger the ionic bond. In the case of weak (or partial) ionic bonds, the more easily they can be broken apart by competing dissolved ions or a change in the aqueous phase pH. Sorption characterized by a strong ionic bond typically requires extreme chemical changes in the water, such as a very strong pH level change, which rarely occurs naturally.
Nclear was developed with these considerations in mind to optimize its sorption characteristics with the phosphate anion. As a result, Nclear has the strongest binding characteristics at ambient pH levels of any sorbent we have tested – including alum and various iron salts.
Nclear Design Criteria:
Nclear must be safe with no hazardous, toxic, or harmful elements
Nclear crystals must possess a very strong ionic charge to attract and create a tight ionic bond to the molecules PO4 and/or NO3
PO4 — The phosphorus in phosphate has a valence or oxidation state charge of +5
NO3 – The nitrogen in nitrate has an oxidation state charge of +5
Ionic Bond must remain permanent in or on the sediments of a typical water body (e.g., lake or pond)
Must create a wide field of ionic attraction for P and N nutrients when applied in the water column and settling onto the water body’s sediments
Nclear surface area shape, size, and weight must be optimal for the Nclear crystals to slowly sink to the bottom without the risk of being re-suspended during wind-induced wave turbulence
The chemical elements of Nclear must be naturally occurring, and its overall chemistry must be composed of elements typically found in the sediments of healthy surface water bodies
Must be aesthetically innocuous, unnoticeable in size, color, or appearance in the water body or sediment
Must continue to attract and create an ionic bond with P that is released from other sediment particles. This P may release due to continued mineralization of labile organic sediment, redistribution of sediment particles, or from equilibrium changes caused by lowered concentrations of P in the water column or interstitial fluid. Loosely bound P will be released and adsorbed onto our Nclear crystals.
Nclear: The Bottom Line
Technically speaking, Nclear crystals are very similar to the chemistry of sand found in the sediment of healthy surface water bodies. Most sedimentary sand consists primarily of calcium or silica. Coral sand is composed primarily of calcium and most inland non-tropical sediment sand is primarily composed of silica. However, Nclear crystals are engineered for the optimal shape, size, purity and chemical ionic charges to create the strongest attraction and chemical electrostatic charge possible and permanently remove excess P from the water column. Additionally, Nclear’s chemical-electrical reaction, when settling through the water column, creates a wide attraction field around our crystals. Adsorption rates for Nclear crystals have been tested to achieve nearly 30% P adsorption, which is significantly greater than any other adsorbent known today. We believe that higher adsorption rates will be difficult to achieve using any other chemistry. Nclear is the only media that is inert in a typical surface water body environment and does not produce muck or other sticky, flocculent material. Additionally, it does not induce aquatic toxicity or create any of the other adverse side effects that competing nutrient removing technologies exhibit.
The chart above compares the sorptive efficiencies of Nclear and other commercially available media typically used to remove phosphorus. As the chart illustrates, the isotherms for both forms of Nclear indicate greatly elevated sorptive capacities compared to today’s widely used technologies, such as granulated ferric oxide (GFO) and activated alumina. The isotherm for Nclear 11 depicts our expectation of the variations in P adsorption ratios in a typical lake application, while the Poly isotherm depicts the maximum adsorption ratio we have measured to date (utilizing phosphate process water at Piney Point).
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