A nanoparticle-based material to improve water purification processes

Unmet Need

Water is one of our most precious and essential commodities. It is no surprise that the United Nations recognized access to clean drinking water as an essential component to the realization of all other human rights. However, despite our planet being covered in 70% by water, only 0.14% of this is accessible and drinkable by humans. Increased population has also led to increased contamination of this very precious supply. Many existing water-filtering materials, including activated charcoal, can struggle to remove contaminants such as lead, antibiotics, and pesticides. In addition, these often require thermal treatment which increases the cost and energy needed for production. There is a need for improved, accessible water filtering technologies.

Technology

Duke inventors have identified a nanoparticle-based material that can self-assemble into a usable filter intended to be deployed for at-home, industrial, or municipal water filtration. The filter creates a sponge-like structure allowing for an incredibly large surface area where contaminants can interact while still keeping the weight of the required material low. The material is amenable to adding additional chemical groups, allowing for the ability to greatly customize the properties of the filter. This material has been produced in the laboratory and has performed better than commercial activated carbon.

Advantages

  • Assembly requires low energy input unlike existing water filters that typically need heated
  • Can be settled out of solution or incorporated in filtration cartridges
  • Suitable for a wide-range of applications including at-home filters to industrial scale
  • The material can be customized to combine physical and chemical methods allowing for a larger range of contaminant removal
  • Has performed better than activated carbon in laboratory testing
Bright-field optical microscope image of the synthesized material

Duke File (IDF) Number

T-006730

Inventor(s)

  • Geitner, Nicholas

For more information please contact

College

Pratt School of Engineering