Category: Water, Wastewater & Storm water
Arsenic is a highly toxic, naturally occurring element that enters into water from mineral deposits and threatens aquatic life and human health. Drinking water pollution due to arsenic contamination has been a serious problem for decades and has been cited as the cause for the largest mass poisoning in human history. This problem is still widespread today as the World Health Organization estimates that 200 million people worldwide are exposed to unsafe levels of arsenic in their drinking water. Researchers have sought to use nanomaterials, materials present in the nano-scale (10-9 m), for the direct capture of pollutants from the environment. The advantages associated with using a nanomaterial include a high surface to volume ratio, enhanced loading capacity and rapid reaction time. However, nanomaterials can have negative impacts on environmental systems in terms of toxicity and bioaccumulation. Here we report a novel synthesis method to grow copper (Cu) nanomaterials directly on a polyurethane foam support to produce an arsenic sorbent “sponge.” This sponge effectively removes more than 70% of the arsenic present in solution in 5 minutes without releasing nanoparticles. This technology represents a novel platform for deploying nanomaterials in environmental systems.
John Brockgreitens– Graduate Research Assistant, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul