Adsorption technology, an innovative approach to water treatment
During the last decades, the climate crisis, increasing global population, uncontrolled economic development and different anthropogenic interventions on the environment have been negatively impacting the water cycle.
Gradually, different regions of the world started suffering from water stress and scarcity and waterborne diseases increased. Hence, providing clean drinking water is a major global challenge, especially for supporting low-income countries wherein access to priority natural resources is still limited.
Filtration treatment technologies are widely seen as a solution, thanks to their capacity to remove chemical pollutants and microbial agents from urban and industrial wastewater. In particular, adsorption technologies are an efficient way to selectively remove particles from liquids through the proper selection of adsorbent material.
However, frequently used adsorbents are not effective for killing pathogens. These materials principally act as molecular sieves, binding and accumulating cells and compounds through interactive forces of physicochemical attraction between the adsorbent porous surface and the target pollutant. To solve this weakness, adsorption technologies can be combined with new biotechnological approaches to obtain antimicrobial biosorbent materials that can improve water management.
More specifically, nanomaterials, such as metal nanoparticles, are the antimicrobial agents with the best results in killing unwanted microorganisms in wastewater.
Due to their strong bactericidal effect, metal nanoparticles could be used in combination with traditional adsorbents to develop water purification systems.
For this reason, the SYMSITES consortium is developing and evaluating new hybrid biopolymer metal-nanoparticulate materials, with improved antimicrobial activity and low toxicity. The expected positive results would demonstrate the potential of these new bio-nanotechnological approaches for wastewater treatment at different scales.
New advances in water treatment play a significant role in achieving the 6th Sustainable Development Goal, as they help ensure safe drinking water.