Adsorption and removal of heavy metal ions from water by transition metal dichalcogenides


Heavy metal ions present in water, such as lead and mercury, have harmful effects on humans even in trace amounts.  There are various methods for water purification in use commercially, but these systems are often expensive, unstable in performance, and operate optimally only at high concentrations of contaminants.  Because heavy metal ions are harmful in trace amounts, this level of purification is insufficient for making water completely safe.  Therefore, there is a need for the development of a purification system that can remove even trace amounts of metal contaminants from water effectively and consistently in order to make water completely safe for use.

Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a method for purifying water using two-dimensional materials for adsorption of heavy metal ions from water.  Two-dimensional materials are crystalline materials composed of a single layer of atoms, and they have a large surface area.  This makes them ideal for adsorption, which is the collection of gas or liquid particles as a thin film on the outside surface of a solid material.

This particular case is a novel organic and inorganic composite where the two-dimensional materials are dispersed in a three-dimensional foam matrix.  The composite material adsorbs the metal ions from the water at even trace concentrations of contamination.  This is effective because of the affinity for metals exhibited by the molybdenum disulfide present in the composite.  This combination also is reusable, as the material makes desorption of metal ions from its surface possible.  This breakthrough enables complete and inexpensive purification of water, making it fully safe for use and consumption.

Potential Applications

•       Water purification systems

Benefits and Advantages

•       Effective: Enables purification of water at any concentration of contaminants, including trace levels

•       Reusable: Possibility for desorption of metals, enabling reuse of the same material

•       Innovative: Creation of novel material combination with large potential for practical use

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