Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have used the soot emitted by diesel engines to mop up oil and other organic pollutants from water. Their work has been recently published in the journal - Environmental Science and Pollution Research. The diesel engines are known to be associated with emitting significant amounts of particulates and these particulates largely comprise soot, which is formed in the fuel rich regions of the burning diesel jets. Increasing environmental concerns and stringent emission standards require development of both conventional and unconventional means for reducing soot.
Dr. Rahul Vaish, Associate Professor, School of Engineering at IIT Mandi and his research students Vishvendra Pratap Singh and Moolchand Sharma have looked at this problem from a different perspective.
They rationalized that while it is impossible to bring down soot emissions to zero, it is possible to find use for the soot produced.
"Carbon species such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, and candle soot have shown their potential in many fields", says Dr. Vaish, "so why not automobile soot?"
It is known that carbon species can adsorb various organic pollutants in water.
Carbon nanotubes, filter paper, mesh films, and graphene have been used for removing oil from water.
Given that the typical carbon content of soot is between 90 and 98%, the team explored the possibility of using this pollutant as an adsorbent of oil and organic contaminants in water.
"There is a rapid increase in oil and chemical leakages from oil tankers or ships and industrial accidents with expansion in oil production and transportation in the last few decades", the authors write in their recently published paper, justifying the need for new materials to mop up oil and prevent catastrophic environmental outcomes.
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