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Comment Water Treatment

Finely tuned electrodes for water treatment

By Mary Page Bailey |

A new electrochemical water-treatment process developed in the laboratory of T. Alan Hatton, professor of chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge; web.mit.edu), employs functionalized electrodes to selectively remove contaminants, such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals, at extremely low concentrations. The electrode surfaces are treated (functionalized) with Faradaic materials — those that can undergo both oxidation or reduction reactions to take on a positive or negative charge. These reactions take place at controlled potentials and can change the chemical properties of the Faradaic materials, making them selective toward a certain contaminant species at a certain oxidation state. “Depending on which Faradaic material you select to incorporate onto your electrodes, you can design the selectivity to a wide variety of contaminants, from organic pollutants to inorganic salts and heavy metals,” explains MIT researcher Xiao Su. To treat the electrodes, a homogeneous dispersion of the Faradaic materials with carbon nanotubes in an organic solvent is used to coat conductive carbon fibers, which serve as current collectors and the support system for the functional materials. Then, a deposition…
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