Thousands of tons of industrial effluents which are highly toxic to ecosystems are released into the world’s waters every year. Our oceans, seas, rivers and even inland waters are being pumped with the waste which human activities produce. There’s not a single country can escape from this guilt albeit there ‘s certainly a great degree of variation in terms of this irresponsible activities.
Activated carbon is the most common adsorbent used to reduce both atmospheric and wastewater pollution – but is expensive to produce and regenerate. The challenge has been to find an economical alternative. However now, scientists have found an alternative to this. They have developed a new low-cost and sustainable material that may displace activated carbon as the preferred choice for reducing waste-water and air pollution. The material, described in the journal Frontiers in Chemistry, is synthesised inexpensively from solid wastes and a naturally abundant polymer.
“It could cut down pollutants in air and waste-water with more success than activated carbon, the current gold standard adsorbent, researchers said. This paper shows the simple synthesis of a new porous hybrid material, obtained by using low cost and by-product materials,” said lead author Elza Bontempi from the University of Brescia in Italy that led the study along with research scholars Zanoletti, Vassura, Venturini, Monai, Montini, Federici, Zacco, Treccani. “The material was designed on the basis of The European Commission’s request to develop an affordable, sustainable and innovative design-driven material solution that can reduce the concentration of particulate matter in urban areas.”
Researchers created the material by combining sodium alginate (a polysaccharide that can be extracted from seaweed and algae) with a high-volume industrial by-product, silica fume to produce a “green” absorbent that is better than activated carbon.
“The article reports preliminary results about the new material’s capability to capture particulate matter,” Bontempi observed. “It can also be used for waste-water remediation. In particular, its ability to replace activated carbon is demonstrated.”
The synthesis method is simple and easy to scale up, the scientists said. Taking advantage of the gelling properties of alginate, they combined it with the decomposition of food-grade sodium-bicarbonate (baking soda) to consolidate the material. Likewise, the hybrid material adsorbed and removed the dye, even at high concentrations, with 94 per cent efficiency.
Finally, the possibility to shape the material by 3D printing highlights its high versatility and opens new possibilities, the scientist said. Indeed, 3D printing allows to realise personalised designed components, that may be not available on the market, or that may have high production costs, and require time to be delivered, the study published in Frontiers in Chemistry noted.