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A new adsorbent for wastewater treatment

By Paul Grad |

A team at the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability (EEWS) of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST, Daejeon; www.kaist.ac.kr), led by professor Cafer T. Yavuz has developed a water-treatment adsorbent that can selectively remove water-soluble micromolecules, such as those of dyes and pesticides, which cannot be removed completely during conventional water-treatment processes. The adsorbent has the added advantages of being inexpensive, easily synthesized and renewable. In order to remove very small molecules — which also tend to be electrically charged — with high solubility in water, and to do so selectively, the team had to develop a new adsorbent technology. It developed a fluorine-based nanoporous polymer that has all the desirable properties. By controlling the size of the pores, this adsorbent can selectively adsorb aqueous micromolecules of less than 1–2 nm in size. To separate specific contaminants, the adsorbent had to be able to interact strongly with the target substance. Fluorine, the most electronegative atom, interacts strongly with charged soluble organic molecules. The incorporation of fluorine enabled the adsorbent to separate charged organic molecules up to eight…
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