IIT Mandi Researchers Develop Method To Remove Heavy Metals From Water
A research team of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi, led by Assistant Professor Sumit Sinha Ray, School of Engineering, has developed a fibrous membrane filter using a biopolymer-based material to remove heavy metals from water.
A research team of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi, led by Assistant Professor Sumit Sinha Ray, School of Engineering, has developed a fibrous membrane filter using a biopolymer-based material to remove heavy metals from water. The study was funded by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India.
Results of the research have been published in the journal Polymer. The paper has been co-authored by Dr Sinha Ray and his research scholar, Mr Ashish Kakoria, along with Dr Suman Sinha Ray, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Heavy metals in water could lead to several neurological problems in humans including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis, IIT Mandi said.
Heavy metal pollution of water is a serious concern. “The problems of arsenic pollution in the Ganga basin are well known in India,” said Dr Ray.
“In this work, we have provided a novel, industrially scalable method of production of adsorbents that can bind to heavy metals. One specialty of these adsorbents is that they contain a large amount of a biopolymer, Chitosan, derived from crab shells that is mixed with a well-known polymer, Nylon,” explained the lead researcher.
While normally the fibres used to make regular cartridge filter-assemblies are processed using the melt blowing method, the IIT Mandi researchers used a process called “solution blowing”.
“Solution blowing processes can enable blending of natural polymers like chitosan, lignin etc. with synthetic polymers like Nylon, Poly(methyl methacrylate) etc,” Dr Ray said.
The researchers found that while normally adsorbent fibres bind to the target metal only at their surface, in their nanofiber membranes, the adsorption was seen to happen at the sub-surface scale as well, which translates to higher metal removal efficiency as per the researchers’ hypothesis.
Dr Sumit Sinha Ray and his team are set to scale up the technology, to handle larger volumes of metal-contaminated water, the institute said.