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Super Sand Purifies Drinking Water

Super Sand Purifies Drinking Water

Purifying water made easy with new super sand….

Scientists have developed a new ‘magic sand’ that can purify contaminated water 5 times better than regular sand, and just as good as home water filters.

Should the low-cost filer system be mass produced, it could help provide clean drinking water for the billion plus people in developing countries, for whom such a privilege is not granted.

Sand is used all over the world to filter water, but the size of regular sand grains, which determines it efficiency, are simply not small enough to sequester all contaminants. The new super sand however, utilized carbon nano-particles to help solve this problem.

To create the super sand, researchers at Rice University utilize graphite oxide nano-particles known as graphene. Graphite oxide can be engineered to have hydrophobic (water-hating) and hydrophilic (water-loving) properties. When mixed with sand, the graphene coats the grains and settles with the hydrophilic parts exposed. Researchers can then add aromatic thiol molecules to the coating to further enhance the sands ability to purify water-soluble contaminants.

When tested with water containing mercury (at 400 parts per billion) and Rhodamine B dye (10 parts per million), the normal sand only saturated contaminants for 10 minutes, whereas the super sand continued to sequester contaminants for up to 50 minutes.

After filtration, the super produced water containing less than one part per billion – half the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level for mercury in drinking water. The results for water treated with Rhodamine B dye were similar.

Wei Gao, primary author of the study being carried out at Professor Pulickel Ajayan’s Rice lab, said that the team is now looking at ways of further enhancing the contaminant removal:

“By attaching different functional moieties onto graphite oxide, we could engineer some form of a ‘super sand’ to target specific contaminants species, like arsenic, trichloroethylene and others,” [PhysOrg]

The report was published May 13th, 2011, in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.

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  1. Wei Gao: Engineered Graphite Oxide Materials for Application in Water Purification. ACS Publications, 05/13/2011.
  2. ‘Super sand’ for better purification of drinking water (Update). PhysOrg, 06/23/2011.
  3. This Super Sand Makes Even Toxic Water Safe To Drink, Gizmodo, 06/23/2011.

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