Scientists found a solution that can remove heavy metals from water in a cheap and eco-friendly way, producing clean water in seconds.
In the study, published on Wednesday in the journal ASC Central ACS Central Science, a Swiss lab led by Wendy Lee Queen and his American colleagues used metal organic frameworks (MOFs), materials made up of metal nodes interlinked by organic chemical 'struts', to make a water-stable polymer composite.
Daniel T. Sun, from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne has designed a MOF/polymer composite using cheap, environmentally and biologically friendly materials.
The scientists treated a MOF, known as Fe-BTC, with dopamine, which polymerized to polydopamine (PDA) pinning the polymer inside the MOF.
The final composite, named Fe-BTC/PDA, can quickly and selectively remove high amounts of heavy metals like lead and mercury from real-world water samples.
Researchers said it can remove over 1.6 times its own weight of mercury and 0.4 times of its weight of lead.
Fe-BTC/PDA was then tested in solutions as toxic as some of the worst water samples found in Flint, Michigan where a water crises started to poison locals in 2014.
The tests showed that the MOF can, in a matter of seconds, reduce lead concentrations to 2 parts per billion, a level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization deem drinkable.