Water pollution is caused by various industrial development – mostly chemical waste – and is a problem worldwide. Traditional water purifying technologies use carbon-based materials with many limitations, including slow absorption rate and high thermal needed for recycling, making the process energy intensive – and they are not environmentally friendly.
Now, researchers from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in South Korea have developed an eco-friendly polymer that can completely filter out contaminants in water at “ultra-high” speeds. The porous material claims to efficiently remove microplastics in water and small-sized VOC (volatile organic compounds).
Professor Park Chi-Young, co-author of the study from the department of energy science and engineering, DGIST, said that they had developed an “unrivalled” water purification technology with the highest purification efficiency. It can remove up to 99.9 per cent of microplastics and VOC contaminants while running on solar energy.
The team produced a water treatment membrane capable of evaporating water using solar energy as the driving force to provide the polymer with the ability to absorb light broadly and convert the absorbed light into heat. As a result, it was proved that the water treatment membrane coated with the oxidised polymer could purify contaminants through sunlight.
They hope to scale the innovation as it is cost-competitive commercially and allows a solar-based water purification process.
“We expected that it will be a universal technology with high economic efficiency that can purify contaminated water and supply drinking water even in areas with no power supply,’ said Chi-Young.