According to Professor Nicky Eshtiaghi, lead researcher at RMIT University, Melbourne, existing methods could take days to remove microplastics from water. Eshtiaghi and colleagues created a cheap and sustainable invention that could achieve better results in just one hour.
The research results are published in the Chemical Engineering Journal.
Adsorbents in powdered form and a nano-pillar structure made of waste
The team developed adsorbents in the form of a powder that can remove microplastics 1,000 times smaller than those currently detectable by existing wastewater treatment plants.
“The nano-pillar structure we’ve engineered to remove this pollution, which is impossible to see but very harmful to the environment, is recycled from waste and can be used multiple times,” said Eshtiaghi from the School of Engineering in a release.
The adsorbent is made using nanomaterials that can be mixed into water to attract microplastics and dissolved pollutants. “This whole process takes one hour, compared to other inventions taking days,” said Muhammad Haris, the first author and Ph.D. candidate from the School of Engineering. He added that the nanomaterials contained iron, which played a key role in helping to use magnets that could easily separate the microplastics and pollutants from the water.
The material leaves no carbon footprints
Dr. Nasir Mahmood, the co-lead researcher, said that the nano-pillar structured material was designed to attract microplastics keeping in mind the current scenario. It does its job without creating any secondary pollutants or carbon footprints.
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