There are several forces and interactions that give enviraPACâ„¢ the ability to remove pollutants, including mercury vapor from gas stream, including surface energy, Van der Waals forces, and chelation, all of which are amplified by the very high surface are of enviraPACâ„¢.
Surface energy is the imbalance in chemical energy when a chemical structure has an edge. When a structure is made, including carbon lattices, each atom â€œwantsâ€ to be surrounded by other atoms but at the edge, this is not the case, a carbon atom which would be bound with four other carbon atoms inside the lattices can only be bound with two or three atoms at an edge, which creates an electrical imbalance that can be satisfied by attracting other compounds.
Van der Waals forces are the forces between molecules with uneven distribution of electrons, creating magnetic attraction via positive and negative poles. Especially common in hydrocarbons, these imbalances cause the electron rich, negative areas of a molecule to be attracted to the electron poor, positive areas of another molecule.
Chelation is a very strong version of ionic bonding, where an atom or molecule missing an electron is strongly attracted to another atom or molecule with an excess electron. The mercury-sulfur interaction is good example of this, where mercury will bind very strongly to sulfur or any sulfur containing compound, either removing the sulfur from the structure or interfering with the compoundâ€™s function. This behavior is what makes mercury toxic. In the human body it binds to sulfur in proteins, enzymes, and nerve cells, causing significant harm to biological function. The impregnation of enviraPACâ„¢ with sulfur allows us to take advantage of this effect and cause mercury, which is normally not strongly attracted to carbon, to be chemically sequestered in the structure of enviraPACâ„¢.
Because of the interactions listed above, any surface will have an attractive or repulsive force with a gas, liquid, or other surface, but that force is proportional to the surface area and is usually not very strong. However, because envirPACâ„¢ has over 600 square meters per gram, it has the available surface area of an eighty by eighty foot square compressed into a sample the size of a teaspoon. This high available surface area allows us to create a high concentration of attractive forces to sequester mercury and other pollutants and allows it to happen within a very same amount of mass.