Scientists in New York have developed a new reusable polymer that can remove pollutants from the flowing water within seconds.
The new concept works on the same principle as in case of air fresheners, where invisible air pollutants are trapped by cyclodextrin to make one’s home odour free.
The researchers have used same material, cyclodextrin, and developed a technique that can now revolutionize the water-purification industry across the world.
The research was conducted by a US-based team that was led by Will Dichtel from Cornell University.
The team was able to develop a porous form of cyclodextrin that absorbs pollutants out of water at a rate that is vastly superior to traditional methods like activated carbon.
It was seen that the rate of absorption is some cases was so fast that it was nearly 200 times greater than the activated carbon method.
Though it was noted that activated carbons has the advantage of covering larger surface area than previous polymers made from cyclodextrin, it was observed that they do not bind the pollutants as strongly as cyclodextrin does. Talking about the new cyclodextrin method, associate professor Dichtel said:
“What we did is make the first high-surface-area material made of cyclodextrin combining some of the advantages of the activated carbon with the inherent advantages of the cyclodextrin, These materials will remove pollutants in seconds, as the water flows by.”
Another big advantage of cyclodextrin-containing polymer is that it is not only easier and cheaper in its regeneration but it can also be reused many times without any loss in its performance.
Furthermore, the recyclability of the the cyclodextrin polymer makes it much more durable. Where activated carbon filters are required to undergo intense heat-treating for regeneration, cyclodextrin filters can be washed at room temperature with methanol or ethanol.
The new polymer will be extremely beneficial for developing countries like India and Africa, where they can provide cheaper material to the fast growing water purification industry.