Physical sciences, Earth sciences

Wood waste for decontamination

Much as sponges soak up water and remove it from a surface, industrial sorbents collect molecules in fluids or gases. EU-funded scientists are developing carbon-based nanosorbents from vegetative waste for improved removal of industrial contaminants.

Sorbents are used to recover everything from oil in spills, urine in a baby's diaper and toxins in the gastrointestinal tract. Innovative research funded by the EU is developing nano-structured sorbents from vegetative waste to benefit both the wood processing industry and the environment.

The project 'Ecological application of nanosorbents on the base of natural and synthetic ionites and carbons' (ECONANOSORB) is a collaborative training and exchange effort. Four western European countries and three institutions from the Russian Federation and Ukraine are partners.

Research focuses on development and characterisation of improved nanosorbents of industrial contaminants. The sorbents themselves are natural and synthetic ionites (ion exchange materials) and carbon-based materials from vegetative waste. Investigators are decreasing sorbent size and adding nanoparticles to improve performance.

During the first project period, the team prepared and studied nanomaterials and their properties related to adsorption and desorption of industrial contaminants and heavy metals. Researchers have optimised protocols for preparation of the materials and evaluated their dispersion in aqueous and non-aqueous solvents.

They assessed the effects of treating the sorbents with acidic and basic solutions with very promising preliminary results. No study of nanotechnology would be complete without a careful assessment of nanoparticle environmental and health risks. Scientists have thus begun analyses evaluating the impact of the wood-based products.

Sorbents are critical components of wastewater and air purification systems, sensors and biomedical devices. ECONANOSORB outcomes could reach a large market with important impact on the competitiveness of the wood processing industry and the sustainability of several others.

last modification: 2015-05-18 09:52:34
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