Cutting acid rain

1 January 2003

A nuclear probe developed by Australia's national science authority CSIRO could cut acid rain rates, claims its inventors. It can detect the sulphur content of coal underground, allowing miners to choose seams with low concentrations of this pollutant. The probe centres on neutron capture using prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA).

"Australian coal is low in sulphur but some coal extracted from Europe and North America is not," said CSIRO nuclear scientist Dr Mihai Borsaru. "Armed with data from the probe companies will be able to leave high sulphur coals in the ground." CSIRO also hopes to use the probe to measure salt concentrations in soil as part of its assault on dryland salinity.

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