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Concept: Iron ore


Abnormal accumulation of brain metals is a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Formation of amyloid-β plaque cores (APC) is related to interactions with biometals, especially Fe, Cu and Zn, but their particular structural associations and roles remain unclear. Using an integrative set of advanced transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques, including spherical aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (Cs-STEM), nano-beam electron diffraction, electron holography and analytical spectroscopy techniques (EDX and EELS), we demonstrate that Fe in APC is present as iron oxide (Fe3O4) magnetite nanoparticles. Here we show that Fe was accumulated primarily as nanostructured particles within APC, whereas Cu and Zn were distributed through the amyloid fibers. Remarkably, these highly organized crystalline magnetite nanostructures directly bound into fibrillar Aβ showed characteristic superparamagnetic responses with saturated magnetization with circular contours, as observed for the first time by off-axis electron holography of nanometer scale particles.

Concepts: Electron, Iron, Magnetism, Aluminium, Transmission electron microscopy, Iron ore, Magnetite, Hematite


The growing implementation of iron oxide nanoparticles in medicine requires a thorough investigation of their physiological influence. Therefore, effects of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on isometric contractions of healthy human mesenteric artery in vitro were investigated.

Concepts: Health, Iron, Iron oxide, Oxides, Iron ore, Magnetite, Focus, Hematite


To achieve high and sustained magnetic particle loading in a proliferative and endocytotically active neural transplant population (astrocytes) through tailored magnetite content in polymeric iron oxide particles.

Concepts: Iron, Iron oxide, Particle physics, Oxides, Particle, Iron ore, Magnetite, Hematite


Iron-rich (ferruginous) ocean chemistry prevailed throughout most of Earth’s early history. Before the evolution and proliferation of oxygenic photosynthesis, biological production in the ferruginous oceans was likely driven by photoferrotrophic bacteria that oxidize ferrous iron {Fe(II)} to harness energy from sunlight, and fix inorganic carbon into biomass. Photoferrotrophs may thus have fuelled Earth’s early biosphere providing energy to drive microbial growth and evolution over billions of years. Yet, photoferrotrophic activity has remained largely elusive on the modern Earth, leaving models for early biological production untested and imperative ecological context for the evolution of life missing. Here, we show that an active community of pelagic photoferrotrophs comprises up to 30% of the total microbial community in illuminated ferruginous waters of Kabuno Bay (KB), East Africa (DR Congo). These photoferrotrophs produce oxidized iron {Fe(III)} and biomass, and support a diverse pelagic microbial community including heterotrophic Fe(III)-reducers, sulfate reducers, fermenters and methanogens. At modest light levels, rates of photoferrotrophy in KB exceed those predicted for early Earth primary production, and are sufficient to generate Earth’s largest sedimentary iron ore deposits. Fe cycling, however, is efficient, and complex microbial community interactions likely regulate Fe(III) and organic matter export from the photic zone.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Bacteria, Evolution, Iron, Redox, Iron ore, Plankton


The distribution, accumulation and circulation of oxygen and hydrogen in Earth’s interior dictate the geochemical evolution of the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. The oxygen-rich atmosphere and iron-rich core represent two end-members of the oxygen-iron (O-Fe) system, overlapping with the entire pressure-temperature-composition range of the planet. The extreme pressure and temperature conditions of the deep interior alter the oxidation states, spin states and phase stabilities of iron oxides, creating new stoichiometries, such as Fe4O5 (ref. 5) and Fe5O6 (ref. 6). Such interactions between O and Fe dictate Earth’s formation, the separation of the core and mantle, and the evolution of the atmosphere. Iron, in its multiple oxidation states, controls the oxygen fugacity and oxygen budget, with hydrogen having a key role in the reaction of Fe and O (causing iron to rust in humid air). Here we use first-principles calculations and experiments to identify a highly stable, pyrite-structured iron oxide (FeO2) at 76 gigapascals and 1,800 kelvin that holds an excessive amount of oxygen. We show that the mineral goethite, FeOOH, which exists ubiquitously as ‘rust’ and is concentrated in bog iron ore, decomposes under the deep lower-mantle conditions to form FeO2 and release H2. The reaction could cause accumulation of the heavy FeO2-bearing patches in the deep lower mantle, upward migration of hydrogen, and separation of the oxygen and hydrogen cycles. This process provides an alternative interpretation for the origin of seismic and geochemical anomalies in the deep lower mantle, as well as a sporadic O2 source for the Great Oxidation Event over two billion years ago that created the present oxygen-rich atmosphere.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Iron oxide, Earth, Aluminium, Iron ore, Hematite, Iron(II) oxide


Fully green and facile redox chemistry involving reduction of colloidal iron hydroxide (Fe(OH)3) through green tea (GT) polyphenols produced water-soluble Fe3O4 nanocrystals coated with GT extracts namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin (EC). Electron donating polyphenols stoichiometrically reduced Fe3+ ions into Fe2+ ions resulting in the formation of magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles and corresponding oxidized products (semiquinones and quinones) that simultaneously served as efficient surface chelators for the Fe3O4 nanoparticles making them dispersible and stable in water, PBS and cell culture medium for extended time periods. As-formed iron oxide nanoparticles (2.5-6 nm) displayed high crystallinity and saturation magnetization as well as high relaxivity ratios manifested in strong contrast enhancement observed in T2-weighted images. Potential of green tea-coated super-paramagnetic iron oxide nanocrystals (SPIONs) as superior negative contrast agents was confirmed by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Primary human macrophages (J774A.1) and colon cancer cells (CT26) were chosen to assess cytotoxicity and cellular uptake of GT-, EGCGq- and ECq-coated Fe3O4 nanoparticles, which showed high uptake efficiencies by J774A.1 and CT26 cells without any additional transfection agent. Furthermore, the in vivo accumulation characteristics of GT-coated Fe3O4 nanoparticles were similar to those observed in clinical studies of SPIONs with comparable accumulation in epidermoid cancer-xenograft bearing mice. Given their promising transport and uptake characteristics and new surface chemistry, GT-SPIONs conjugates can be applied for multimodal imaging and therapeutic applications by anchoring further functionalities.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Iron, Iron oxide, Redox, Catechin, Iron ore, Magnetite, Epigallocatechin gallate


The speciation and fate of neptunium as Np(V)O2+ during the crystallization of ferrihydrite to hematite and goethite was explored in a range of systems. Adsorption of NpO2+ to iron(III) (oxyhydr)oxide phases was reversible and for ferrihydrite, occurred through the formation of mononuclear bidentate surface complexes. By contrast, chemical extractions and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) analyses showed the incorporation of Np(V) into the structure of hematite during its crystallization from ferrihydrite (pH 10.5). This occurred through direct replacement of octahedrally coordinated Fe(III) by Np(V) in neptunate-like coordination. Subsequent XAS analyses on mixed goethite and hematite crystallization products (pH 9.5 and 11) showed that Np(V) was incorporated during crystallization. Conversely, there was limited evidence for Np(V) incorporation during goethite crystallization at the extreme pH of 13.3. This is likely due to the formation of a Np(V) hydroxide precipitate preventing incorporation into the goethite particles. Overall these data highlight the complex behaviour of Np(V) during the crystallization of iron(III) (oxyhydr)oxides, and demonstrate clear evidence for neptunium incorporation into environmentally important mineral phases. This extends our knowledge of the range of geochemical conditions under which there is potential for long term immobilisation of radiotoxic Np in natural and engineered environments.

Concepts: X-ray, Chemistry, Ligand, Term, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, Absorption spectroscopy, Iron ore, X-ray absorption fine structure


In this work, a very facile one-pot hydrothermal synthesis approach has been developed for the preparation of ultrathin magnetite nanoplates. The hydrothermal procedure was performed by aging ferrous hydroxide under anaerobic conditions, which is known as Schikorr reaction. Ethylene glycol (EG), which was introduced to the reaction as another solvent, played a critical role in the formation process of these nanoplates. Typically, hexagonal Fe3O4 nanoplates with a thickness of 10 to 15 nm and a side length of 150 to 200 nm have been synthesized with EG/H2O = 1:1 in experiments. Our data suggest that the thickness of Fe3O4 nanoplates decreases, and the shape of the nanoplate becomes more irregular when the concentration of EG increases. The as-prepared Fe3O4 nanoplates were highly crystallized single crystals and exhibited large coercivity and specific absorption rate coefficient.

Concepts: Iron, Iron oxide, Chemistry, Specific absorption rate, Ethylene glycol, Iron ore, Magnetite, Hematite


Applying recycled iron-bearing waste materials (RIM) into iron ore sintering process is the general disposal approach worldwide, while its use is still a thorny problem. Results showed that adding RIM increased contents of hazardous elements (K, Na, Pb, Zn, and Cl) in sinter product, and also enhanced emission concentration of PM2.5 in flue gas; increasing reaction temperature, and contents of CaO & coke breeze in raw mixtures improved hazardous elements removal. Based on these features, a novel method through granulating natural iron ores and RIM separately and distributing granulated RIM in bottom sintering layers was proposed for clean RIM cycle. When recycling 5% RIM, granulating RIM separately with higher contents of CaO and coke breeze removed hazardous elements effectively, the contents of which in sinter were reduced to comparable level of the case without RIM. Moreover, distributing RIM in bottom sintering layer reached intensive release of hazardous elements and PM2.5 during sintering, which reduced the flue gas volume needing purification by about 2/3. Through activated carbon purification, about 60% of PM2.5 comprised high contents of hazardous elements was removed. Novel technique eliminated the negative impact of RIM and has the prospect to reach clean recycle in sinter-making plants.

Concepts: Iron, Carbon, Aluminium, Waste management, Lead, Steel, Recycling, Iron ore


Installing desulfurization systems and closing outdated facilities can effectively decrease pollutant emissions from iron ore sintering. Polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxin and dibenzofuran (PBDD/F) emissions from different-sized sintering plants with different desulfurization systems were analyzed. The desulfurization systems' PBDD/F removal efficiencies were 53.6%-97.1%, and were higher for wet desulfurization systems than for semi-dry and dry systems. The removed PBDD/Fs were transferred to the desulfurization products. The removal efficiencies of PBDF homologs increased with the degree of bromination. A PBDD/F emission inventory for Chinese sintering plants was compiled. PBDD/F emissions in flue gases, desulfurization products, and discarded fly ash (previously ignored) from 2003 to 2015 were 1218, 400, and 245 g toxic equivalents, respectively. PBDD/F concentrations in flue gases and fly ash were higher for small plants (<90 m2), indicating the importance of phasing them out. Indeed, in China such phasing out decreased PBDD/F emissions in flue gases, desulfurization products, and discarded fly ash by 1021, 891, and 3253 g toxic equivalents, respectively, between 2003 and 2015. PBDD/F emissions in flue gases have been controlled in Chinese regions with the highest emissions, but PBDD/F emissions in desulfurization products and fly ash are increasing.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Iron ore, Furnace