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article imageWood-based filter removes toxic dye from water

By Tim Sandle     May 14, 2017 in Environment
Scientists from the research institute Maryland NanoCenter have developed a wood-based filter, designed to remove toxic dyes from water.
The University of Maryland scientists and engineers, led by Professor Liangbing Hu, have successfully added nanoparticles to wood. The resultant product then acts as a medium to filter-out toxic dyes from water.
The researchers took a piece of linden wood (which comes from lime trees). Suitability of this type of wood was shown through the application of a special lens. The wood was then soaked in palladium. Palladium a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal. The metal has a low melting point and is relatively light-weight. The largest use of palladium is in catalytic converters, where the metal helps to .remove pollutants from vehicle exhausts.
With the new application, palladium functions to bonds to particles of dye. The filter basis uses the natural channels of the wood. As a tree, these channels function to move water and nutrients between the leaves and roots. With the filter, the channels permit the flow of water past the nanoparticles. This allows the palladium particles to remove of the toxic dye particles whilst allowing the ‘clean’ water to flow.
The process is shown in more detail in the following video:
In trials, water was stained with methylene blue. The trial led to the stain being retained by the nanoparticles can for ‘clear’ water to flow, as steady drips, through the wood. Discussing this, lead researcher Dr. Amy Gong: "This could be used in areas where wastewater contains toxic dye particles.” On practice this means the wood filter could be used to remove impurities and toxins from water on a larger scale. Examples would include the extraction of heavy metals, including lead and copper.
The success of this will depend on whether the technology can economically be scaled up. One limitation is due to the channels in the wood being slightly bent in shape, which increases the time required for the water is in contact with the wood. This means further research is needed to optimize the flow of water through the wood.
The research is published in the journal ACS Nano, under the heading “Mesoporous, Three-Dimensional Wood Membrane Decorated with Nanoparticles for Highly Efficient Water Treatment.”
More about Filter, wood filter, Toxins, Contamination
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