Aero-solution, commonly referred to as “aerosol” is a suspension of liquid droplets or fine solid particles in the air or any other gas. Aerosols can be either anthropogenic or natural.
In a new study, researchers have unveiled a unique 3D water-purifying graphene aerogel. This new technology is a huge development for Aerogel Market as the purifier could be scaled to be used at large wastewater treatments. The material has the ability to remove metals, dyes and organic solvents present in drinking water with 100% efficiency rate. In contrast to the nanosheets, the design used in the material is not only reusable but also does not leave any residue. Moreover, it can be easily 3D printed, thus, making industrial scale production viable.
The system comprises of two bio-inspired polymers, styrofoam-like aerogel and latticed graphene. The objective with which this technology was developed is that researchers wanted to remove contaminants from the water safely and without releasing any chemical residue that would impact the environment. The aerogels so created have the ability to hold their structure when they are put into water treatment systems and can even be applied in diverse water treatment applications.
In order to develop this system, DIW (Direct Ink Writing) was used as it provides accurate control over the shape, size, and design of parts produced. Moreover, the process is easily repeatable, making it highly scalable. 3D printing is already in the works of creating thermal, biomedical graphene devices and energy; thus, it makes a viable option for the development of mass-production of water purifying systems.
The researchers put in a lot of efforts to produce aerogels that was consistent. They first developed a graphene-based ink with qualities that enables water absorption while simultaneously preventing particle agglomeration. To acquire such perfection, the team added the BSA (Bovine Serum Albumin) and bio-inspired PDA (polydopamine) to a GO powder. This yielded a unique material that is viscoelasticity-optimized 3D printed. After developing the desired material, researchers tested it by exposing it to organic solvent loaded-water so that its contaminant removal capacity could be judged.
Through a series of tests, the team concluded that graphene aerogel could remove 100 percent of the solvents present and also reduce the dye contamination by about 20 percent. Through further experiments, researchers were even able to reconfigure the aerogel. Now, it can also take out heavy metals like alloys, lead, and chromium that evaded the water decontamination facilities till now.
Scientists are positive that further research and experiments on this study would lead to construction of a scalable approach that would end up in creation of functional reusable nanomaterials. In turn, they could be used as filters, absorbents, and reactors in water filtration plants.
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