Revolutionary Aerogel Adsorbent Purifies Water, Removes 76% of Trace Pollutants

Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Tel Aviv University Develop Eco-Friendly Solution for Water Pollution

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and Tel Aviv University, Israel, have made significant advancements in wastewater purification. They developed a graphene-modified silica aerogel that effectively removes over 76% of trace pollutants in continuous flow conditions, offering a sustainable solution for large-scale water purification. This development is crucial for a water-scarce country like India, where 18% of the world’s population is supported by just 4% of global water resources. Water-intensive industries, like pharmaceuticals and textiles, are major contributors to water pollution in India.

The research was led by Prof. Rajnish Kumar from IIT Madras, along with other team members, and their findings were published in the prestigious journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Prof. Rajnish Kumar emphasized the need for indigenous techniques to combat water pollution and protect ecosystems, highlighting the limitations of conventional wastewater treatment methods. He mentioned that adsorption, the process used in their research, offers an eco-friendly, cost-effective, and efficient way to remove pollutants, particularly pharmaceuticals.

Subhash Kumar Sharma expressed enthusiasm about the transformative potential of their research in mitigating water pollution challenges and emphasized their commitment to scientific excellence and environmental responsibility.

Prof. Hadas Mamane from Tel Aviv University discussed the technical aspects of their research, explaining that the graphene-doped modified silica aerogels (GO-SA) can be customized to target specific contaminants by modifying their surface chemistry. These aerogels can also be regenerated and reused multiple times, reducing waste and operational costs, making them a sustainable solution for water purification.

The research team’s development of GO-SA aerogels is a notable advancement in water purification, with remarkable efficiency in attracting and removing contaminants, particularly due to graphene’s unique molecular structure. In their experiments, the material removed over 85% of pollutants in controlled settings and more than 76% in continuous flow conditions.