Microplastics are a growing environmental problem, but now researchers in Korea have developed a new water treatment system that can filter out these tiny particles, as well as other pollutants, very quickly and with high efficiency.
Given the ubiquity of plastic in today’s world, it’s no surprise that tiny flakes of this material can be found just about anywhere on Earth, even in environments that are considered untouched. Microplastics have been found from pole to pole, from the deepest ocean trenches to the highest mountain peaks, and are making their way to humans through the food chain.
Various materials are being tested to help filter microplastics, including magnetic “nanopillars”, nanocellulose, semiconductor wires and filter columns containing sand, gravel and biofilms. Now, researchers at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in South Korea have found a promising new design.
The key is a material known as a covalent triazene framework (CTF). They are a very porous material with a high surface area, which means they have enough space inside to store the molecules they capture. Such materials have recently been shown to be effective in removing organic dyes from industrial wastewater.
The team carefully designed the molecules in CTF to better attract water and subjected the material to mild oxidation. The resulting filter was shown to be very fast at removing microplastics from water, with over 99.9% of contaminants removed within 10 seconds. The material can also be reused many times without degrading its performance.
In another test, researchers have developed a version of a polymer that can absorb sunlight, convert energy into heat, and use it to clean up another pollutant known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This made it possible to remove more than 98% of volatile organic compounds under the influence of one solar radiation. A prototype combining both types of membranes was able to remove over 99.9% of both types of contaminants.
“The technology we have developed here is an unrivaled water purification technology with the world’s highest purification efficiency, removing over 99.9% of phenolic microplastics and VOC pollutants in water at ultra-high speeds,” said Prof Park Chi-Young. , lead author of the study. to study. “We expected it to be a highly cost-effective, versatile technology that could purify polluted water and provide potable water even in areas without electricity.”
Research published in the journal Modern materials.
Source: DGIST via Asia Research News.