Researchers have made a polymer that can purify water in seconds

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At team of researchers from Cornell University have developed a new type of polymer that’s able to remove pollutants from water in a matter of seconds. Led by associate professor of chemistry Will Dichtel, the team was able to develop a porous form of cyclodextrin, which is the same material found in air fresheners, that can absorb pollutants as much as 200 times faster than traditional activated carbon purifiers. Another part of what makes cyclodextrin polymer such an excellent purifier is that washing and then reusing it is actually a simple process, whereas activated carbon filters require intense heat-treating before they can be reused. 

US scientists have developed a new polymer that has a unique capacity to remove pollutant substances from water “in seconds.” The discovery could revolutionize the water-purification industry, make the process cheaper, and involve minimum energy. A team of researchers from Cornell University made the breakthrough. The full research has been published in Journal Nature this week. “What we did is make the first high-surface-area material made of cyclodextrin [sugar molecules bound together in a ring],” said Will Dichtel, associate professor of chemistry, who led the research, “combining some of the advantages of the activated carbon with the inherent advantages of the cyclodextrin.” “These materials will remove pollutants in seconds, as the water flows by,” he said. “So there’s a potential for really low-energy, flow-through water purification, which is a big deal.” The polymer has already shown the “uptake of pollutants through adsorption at rates vastly superior to traditional activated carbon – 200 times greater in some cases,”says the press release of the university.

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