Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and Tel Aviv University in Israel, have developed a graphene oxide-doped silica aerogel adsorbent that can remove trace pollutants from wastewater.
This graphene-modified silica aerogel reportedly removes over 76% of trace pollutants (PPM level) in continuous flow conditions, offering a sustainable path for large-scale water purification. The research team is dedicated to enhancing these results for large-scale applications.
"Indigenous techniques for wastewater purification have become essential not only to combat pollution but also to preserve water quality, protect ecosystems and mitigate health risks associated with contaminated water," IIT Madras' Rajnish Kumar said. "Conventional wastewater treatment methods struggle to remove trace of pollutants, especially pharmaceuticals. In response, scientists have explored various methods, including adsorption, advanced oxidation processes and membrane filtration. Among these, adsorption is attractive because of its eco-friendly nature, cost-effectiveness, and efficient pollutant removal capabilities".
"I am genuinely enthusiastic about the transformative potential of our research in mitigating water pollution challenges. Our GO-SA adsorbent represents a remarkable step towards sustainable water purification. Our commitment to scientific excellence and environmental responsibility drives us", Subhash Kumar Sharma said.
Hadas Mamane, from Tel Aviv University, said: "This jointly developed GO-SA aerogels can be customized to target specific contaminants by modifying their surface chemistry, making them versatile. Furthermore, they can be regenerated and reused multiple times, reducing waste and operational costs, making them a sustainable solution for water purification."
The research team's silica aerogels modified with graphene were prepared using 'supercritical fluid deposition', and its effectiveness was rigorously studied.
The Graphene-doped modified silica aerogels (GO-SA) were found to exhibit remarkable efficiency in purifying water, attracting and removing contaminants due to graphene's unique molecular structure, which further enhances the available surface area of the aerogel. Under real-life conditions mimicked in their experiments, the material removed over 85% of pollutants in controlled settings and more than 76% in continuous flow conditions.