Earth Day 2019: Easy Approach to Clean Drinking Water

Clean drinking water is a major challenge in numerous parts of the world. As indicated by a 2017 UNICEF report, 2.1 billion individuals worldwide don’t approach clean water and around 884 million people don’t have a basic supply of water. The report likewise provides alarming evidence, as indicated by the most recent UN World Water Report, half the world’s population could be affected by the lack of clean water by 2050.

It is time to think about effective and low-cost materials that would provide a growing world population with simple access to clean drinking water. A group of researchers driven by Robin D. Rogers from the University of Alabama have developed simple method for incorporating magnetic nanoparticles (NPs) into cotton wool fiber. This material can be utilized to treat arsenic-contaminated water to meet the WHO drinking water standard of ≤10 µg of arsenic per liter of water.

Rogers and co-workers present a method to prepare Fe3O4 NP‐modified cellulose fibers by immersing cotton fibers in Fe3O4 NP suspensions of choline acetate ([Cho][OAc]). The ionic liquid (IL) [Cho][OAc] has several advantages over 1‐ethyl‐3‐methylimidazolium acetate ([C2mim][OAc]) as it is ncurrently half the price of [C2mim][OAc], exhibits low toxicity and very good biodegradability, and is definitely cheaper to synthesize.

Quickly, magnetite NPs were incorporated into cotton fibers by utilizing the IL through simple dip coating. The strategy is of generally low cost because the IL can be recovered from the water washings. In this way, the IL can be just utilized as a platform any nanoparticle into any biomass.

The material showed promising low leaching of the NPs (<0.01%) and therefore, it can be safely used for various applications: toxic metals and emerging contaminants removal from water, catalysis, or drug‐delivery. The best of the story is that NPs and ILs can be manufactured off‐site, while the biomass substrate retains its native structure. Due to this fact, such new functional materials can be made in regions with no established chemical industry.