University at Buffalo (UB) researchers developed a novel 3D printed water- purifying Graphene Aerogels that could scaled for the use at large wastewater treatment plants.
The new research material is composed of Styrofoam like the aerogel, latticed Graphene and two bio-inspired polymers; the novel material is capable of removing dyes, and organic solvents from drinking water having 100% efficiency.
“The goal is to safely remove contaminants from water without releasing any problematic chemical residue,” explained study co-author and assistant professor of environmental engineering at UB, Nirupam Aich. “The Aerogels we’ve created hold their structure when put into water treatment systems, and they can be applied in diverse water treatment applications.”
Graphene’s Purification Potential
With high specific surface area and ability, Graphene namomaterials have recently emerged as the promising means of absorbing water contaminants. Material’s Graphene oxide (GO) derivative tested extensively for water purification.
In recent time, scientists experimented with assembling nanosheets into macroscopic Aerogels making them more retrievable.
Direct Ink Writing (DIW) has precise control over the size, shape, and architecture of parts produced. 3D printing deployed for creating thermal, energy and biomedical Graphene devices.
Scalable Water- Cleansing Aerogel
To produce Aerogels quickly and consistently, researchers needed to create a Graphene-based ink, allowing water absorption while preventing particle agglomeration. During the process, researchers added bio-inspired polydopamine (PDA) and bovine serum albumin (BSA) to a GO powder.
“We can use these Aerogels not only to contain Graphene particles but also nanometal particles which act as catalysts,” concluded Aich. “The future goal is to have nanometal particles embedded in the walls and the surface of these Aerogels, and they would be able to degrade or destroy not only biological contaminants, but also chemical contaminants.”
Purification Devices in 3D printed:
Given the low cost and design flexibility permitted by 3D printing, it is used for creating novel devices making the drinking water rapidly. Recently, University of Cambridge spin-out Blue Tap received Innovate UK funding for its 3D printed chlorine doser. This doser can be fitted to water systems to make safe drinking. GE Research was awarded $14.3 million with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to 3D print a device that creates water out of thin air.
In this development, scientists believe that scalable approach is applicable for creating other functional reusable nonmaterial.