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New process efficiently filters hormones from water

By Gerald Ondrey |

Drinking water can be contaminated with micropollutants, including steroid hormones that are used as medical substances and contraceptives. Although their concentration in wastewater may be only a few nanograms per liter, this small amount can already damage human health and adversely affect the environment. Due to the low concentration and small size of the molecules, steroid hormones not only are difficult to detect, but also difficult to remove — conventional sewage-treatment technologies are not sufficient. To handle this problem, professor Andrea Iris Schäfer, head of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s (KIT; Germany; www.kit.edu) Institute for Advanced Membrane Technology (IAMT) and her team have developed a process that combines ultrafiltration (UF) with activated carbon adsorption in a single filtration medium. IAMT researchers have further developed and improved this process together with filter manufacturer Blücher GmbH (Erkrath, Germany; www.bluecher.com), while colleagues from KIT’s Institute of Functional Interfaces, Institute for Applied Materials, and the Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility characterized the material. The study was published in the October 15 issue of Water Research. In the process (diagram),…
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