Microplastics are a growing environmental problem, but researchers in Korea have now developed a new water purification system that can filter out these tiny fragments, along with other pollutants, very quickly and with great efficiency.
Given the ubiquity of plastic in the modern world, it’s no surprise that tiny flakes of this material can be found virtually anywhere on Earth, even in environments considered pristine. Microplastics have been detected from pole to pole, from the deepest ocean trenches to the highest mountain peaks, and travel up the food chain to humans.
Various materials are being tested to help filter out microplastics, including magnetic “nanopilars”, nanocellulose, semiconductor wires, and filter columns containing sand, gravel, and biofilms. Now, researchers from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in South Korea have found the promise with a new design.
The key is a material known as a covalent triazene framework (CTF). They are a highly porous material with a large surface area which means they have plenty of space inside to store the molecules they capture. Similar materials have recently been shown to be effective in removing organic dyes from industrial wastewater.
The team carefully engineered the CTF molecules to attract more water and exposed the material to mild oxidation. The resulting filter was found to be effective in removing microplastics from water very quickly – over 99.9% of pollutants were reportedly removed in 10 seconds. The material can also be reused several times without reducing its performance.
In another test, researchers developed a version of the polymer that could absorb sunlight, convert the energy into heat, and use it to purify another pollutant, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). ). This was able to remove more than 98% of VOCs under the power of solar irradiation. A prototype combining the two types of membranes was able to eliminate more than 99.9% of the two types of pollutants.
“The technology we have developed here is an unmatched water purification technology with the highest purification efficiency in the world, removing over 99.9% of phenolic microplastics and VOC contaminants in water at ultra-high speeds,” said Professor Park Chi-Young, lead author of the study. to study. “We expected it to be a universal technology with high cost efficiency that can purify contaminated water and provide safe drinking water even in areas where there is no power supply.”
The research was published in the journal Advanced materials.
Source: DGIST via Asia Research News