The Pakistani-Australian research team designed an innovative way to remove hazardous microplastics from water using magnets nanoparticles

The materials Science Society of Pakistan congratulates all the authors on their new findings.

The research team consisting of Pakistani and Australian scientists at RMIT University has found an innovative way to rapidly remove hazardous microplastics from water using magnets materials. The designed technique is an inexpensive and sustainable invention that achieves better results in just one hour compared to traditional methods, which could take days to remove microplastics from water. The team says they have developed adsorbents, in the form of a powder, that remove microplastics 1,000 times smaller than those currently detectable by existing wastewater treatment plants. The researchers have successfully tested the adsorbents in the lab, and they plan to engage with industry to develop the innovation further to remove microplastics from waterways. 

“The nano-pillar structure we’ve engineered to remove this pollution, which is impossible to see but very harmful to the environment, is recycled from waste and can be used multiple times,” said Eshtiaghi from RMIT’s School of Engineering. 

“This is a big win for the environment and the circular economy.”

Dr. Nasir Mahmood and Muhammad Haris explained this technology’s working mechanism, which contained iron nanoparticles attached to the microplastics/pollutants and separated them from the water using external magnets within an hour. The designed magnetic material attracts microplastics without creating secondary pollutants or carbon footprints.

“The adsorbent is prepared with special surface properties so that it can effectively and simultaneously remove both microplastics and dissolved pollutants from water,” said Mahmood from RMIT’s School of Science.  

Photos: Dr Nasir Mahmood, Muhammad Haris and Professor Nicky Eshtiaghi (left to right) with a sample of water with microplastics and a vial of clean water following its treatment with their innovation. Credit: RMIT University

“Microplastics smaller than 5 millimetres, which can take up to 450 years to degrade, are not detectable and removable through conventional treatment systems, resulting in millions of tonnes being released into the sea every year. This is not only harmful for aquatic life, but also has significant negative impacts on human health.”

The research results are published in the Chemical Engineering Journal. ‘Self-assembly of C@FeO nanopillars on 2D-MOF for Simultaneous Removal of Microplastic and Dissolved Contaminants from Water’ is published in the Chemical Engineering Journal (DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2022.140390): Self-assembly of C@FeO nanopillars on 2D-MOF for simultaneous removal of microplastic and dissolved contaminants from water – ScienceDirect

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