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Biomimetic coagulant makes water safe to drink (Via PhysicsWorld)

Wastewater treatment is complicated and requires several processes that must be carried out one after the other. This is because each process deals with one type of contaminant. A new biomimetic nanocoagulant that can remove a broad spectrum of pollutants in a single step might be the answer to this problem, and it might even prove itself to be a cost-effective alternative to existing techniques. The micellar nanomaterial, developed by researchers in China and the US, has a core-shell structure similar to that of the sea-anemone Actinia (which extends its tentacles to ensnare prey). It readily disperses in water and absorbs dissolved contaminants.

By 2050, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population may have limited access to clean water. This problem is becoming ever more serious since traditional physiochemical and biological treatment techniques, such as coagulation, sand filtration and activated sludge processes, may no longer be good enough to remove the increasing number of contaminants that are polluting water resources today. While more advanced techniques, like oxidation, adsorption and membrane filtration, can effectively remove “emerging” contaminants like pesticides and pharmaceuticals, these processes do require the wastewater to be pre-treated first to remove colloidal and suspended more.