A team of researchers at Oklahoma State University has developed a capsule technology that can remove more than a dozen radioactive substances from water, milk, fruit juices and other foods.

The technology can be used on a large scale by food processors or packaged into a small capsule to use at the home-kitchen level.

Oklahoma State University professor Allen Apblett, who led the research team, told the American Chemical Society (ACS) that they repurposed and repackaged for radioactive decontamination of water and beverages, a process that originally was developed to mine the oceans for uranium and remove uranium and heavy metals from heavily contaminated water.

"The accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan and ongoing concerns about possible terrorist use of nuclear materials that may contaminate food and water led us to shift the focus of this technology," Apblett said.

Arsenic, cadmium, lead and other heavy metals from water and fruit juices can be eliminated by the technology, he added.

The vital components of the capsule technology are nanoparticles such as metal oxides and various metals combined with oxygen, which can absorb all 15 listed ‘actinide’ chemical components and non-actinide radioactive metals such as arsenic and lead.

The metal-oxide nanoparticles will be bundled inside a capsule and then mixed in a container of contaminated water or fruit juice.

Radioactive metals will exit the liquid and gather inside the capsule, which can be removed, leaving the beverage safe for consumption.

In laboratory tests, the technology reduced the concentrations of these metals to levels that could not be detected, Apblett noted.

The technology is expected to be first used on calcium dietary supplements to remove any traces of cadmium, lead and radiostrontium. Besides, the technology can also be used to tackle terrorist attacks or nuclear accidents, he said.

The research was financed by the Oklahoma Economic Development Generating Excellence Program.