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A breakthrough of water treatment inspired by a marine animal

Actinia . Credit: Huazhang Zhao "> Illustration of Actinia . Credit: Huazhang ZhaoInspired by Actinia a marine organism that disappears…

Actinia . Credit: Huazhang Zhao “>

Illustration of Actinia . Credit: Huazhang Zhao

Inspired by Actinia a marine organism that disappears with its tentacles, a research group has developed a method for efficiently treating water.

The research, a collaboration between Yale Menachem Elimelech and Huazhang Zhao of Peking University, used a material called nanocoagulant to purify water from pollution. By removing a wide range of pollutants in a single step, the discovery promises to significantly improve the centuries-old use of water coagulants. The results are published today in Nature Nanotechnology .

When conventional coagulants such as aluminum sulfate and other metallic salts remove larger particles from water by causing them to accumulate in larger formations and settle. Since these coagulants do not remove smaller particles dissolved in water, further treatment methods are necessary. Using multiple technologies for water treatment is costly, energy-intensive and may require a large amount of land. Creating an efficient and easy-to-use technology to remove all contaminants from water is the key to managing global water shortages. [1

9659005] The research group synthesized a new, very stable nanocoagulant that differs from conventional coagulants in structure, performance and behavior. In addition to removing suspended particles, this nanocoagulant also removes small dissolved pollutants.

“The behavior of the nanocoagulant is governed by its structure,” said Ryan DuChanois, a doctoral student. student in Elimelech’s lab. “Under certain circumstances, the nanocoagulant maintains a structure that allows it to be stored over time.”

Actinia is a marine anemone with a spherical body that has tentacles that penetrate while they rest and stretch while they end up changing. With this marine predator as its model, the researchers synthesized the coagulant using organic and inorganic components to replicate the structure of Actinia .

Like Actinia the nanocoagulant has a core-shell structure that rotates inside the water. The shell destabilizes and connects larger suspended particles, while the exposed nucleus captures the smaller, resolved. It removes a wide range of pollutants, from track micro-pollutants to larger particles, many of which remove conventional methods and represent significant public health problems.

“The ability to remove nitrates was quite surprising, as traditional water coagulants exhibit negligible nitrate removal,” says Elimelech, Roberto C. Goizueta Professor of Chemical and Environmental Technology. It is also critical for water treatment because nitrate pollution is associated with “blue-child syndrome “a potentially mortal condition affecting young children in some parts of the world.

As it is a one-step process, Professor Huazhang Zhao of Peking University said that the work contains the promise to replace current water treatment methods and greatly reduces operating costs for water purification.” It also opens doors to produce “smart” materials that can transform configuration and function due to its environment, “he said.


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More information:
Jinwei Liu et al., Actinia-like multifunctional nanocoagulant for single-stage removal of water contaminants, Naturnantotechnology (2018). DOI: 10,1038 / s41565-018-0307-8

Journal Reference:
Nature nanotechnology

Provided by:
Yale University

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