‘Effervescent tablets’ with iron nanoparticles purify water in record time

Eleni Petala, main author of the patent.
Photo: Viktor Čáp
Tuesday 27 April 2021, 8:00 – Text: Martina Šaradínová

A product based on iron nanoparticles, intended mainly for environmental accidents and remediation of contaminated waters, was developed by scientists from the Czech Advanced Technology and Research Institute (CATRIN). Effervescent tablets can remove hexavalent chromium, arsenic, herbicides, pesticides and other pollutants from the aqueous environment very quickly. This research result is already protected by the European patent, which came into force in April this year.

“These tablets contain iron nanoparticles, which are stable in this form. But, once in water, they disperse very quickly into a large volume of aqueous environment. The tablets contain a mixture of acids and hydroxides, which cause effervescence and simultaneously activate the nanoparticles very quickly, allowing a very rapid reaction between their surface and the pollutant,” said the main author of the patent Eleni Petala from CATRIN.

The material was produced as part of the Security Research Programme of the Czech Republic funded by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic. Scientists from Palacký University collaborated with Dekonta, a.s., and the Military Research Institute. The project entitled ‘advanced nanotechnologies to minimize the impact of escaped hazardous chemical substances endangering population’ focused on applied research and implementation of technologies using state-of-the-art, highly reactive nanomaterials for effective decontamination of hazardous chemicals (including chemical warfare agents) escaping for example in industrial or military accidents.

“In the project, the main focus was placed on maximizing the effect of new (nano)technologies and the high effectiveness of this method, along with minimising the threat to water resources and the population and avoiding the further spread of hazardous chemicals into the environment. We have completely fulfilled these requirements. Our solution is easy, quick and relatively cheap, as it does not require applying large amounts of nanoparticles of iron or other reagents,” explained the co-author of the patent Jan Filip.

The innovativeness of the approach is confirmed by the European patent covering both the way the product is created and the way it is used to achieve an extremely high effect. This has been proved, in particular, by the reduction of hexavalent chromium, the leakage of which may be from galvanic plants, for example, but the product also works with a wide range of other inorganic substances (metals and semi-metals, such as arsenic), halogenated chemicals, endocrine disruptors, pesticides or herbicides. For example, the tablets could be also used, according to scientists, to clean wells contaminated during floods, swimming pools, or surface waters during environmental accidents.

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