Researchers Develop Alternative to Activated Carbon to Prevent Water Pollution

March 20, 2018
The new substance is synthesized from solid wastes and a naturally abundant polymer

Scientists have developed a new material that may become the industry standard for reducing wastewater pollution, potentially replacing activated carbon as the most widely-used adsorbent. The material is synthesized using both solid wastes an a polymer. 

Dr. Elza Bontempi of the University of Brescia, Italy, and lead author of the study claims the material is a result 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.” 

Particulate matter is greatly toxic to nature as well as individuals and is emitted from power plants, industrial plants and automobiles, among other sources. Millions of tons of industrial effluents include this matter every year. 

The current primary method to reduce these particles utilizes activated carbon, but this method is far more expensive than the new material. The new method combines sodium alginate with silica fume, a high-volume industrial byproduct. This process creates a more environmentally friendly and affordable material than current practices. Beyond saving money, the new process is also simpler to enact and scale-up than traditional activated carbon practices. 

Researchers tested the effectiveness of the material by using methylene blue dye as a model pollutant and found that the new material was 94% efficient in removing the target contaminant.