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Scientists in Australia have come up with a new resolution for removing dangerous “forever chemicals” from water by simply adding a solution to contaminated water making the chemicals magnetic.
Forever chemicals like per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) are very popular to use due to their ability to repel water and oil. This compound is not good for the health and to make things worse, the stable molecules are very difficult to degrade which makes them “forever chemicals”.
In order to solve this problem, scientists from the University of Queensland have come up with a method which can remove these pollutants from water. The research team created a solution called a “magnetic fluorinated polymer sorbent”. This solution covers the PFAS molecules when it is added to contaminated water making them magnetic. A magnet can then be used to attract the pollutants and separate them from the water. It is a pretty straightforward process.
According to New Atlas, the team found that the technique could remove over 95% of most PFAS molecules, including over 99% of GenX – a particularly problematic chemical – within 30 seconds when conducting tests with small samples of PFAS-laden water.
Compared to other methods used to remove PFAS from water, this new one has a few advantages. First of all, the solution itself can be reused up to 10 times and it can work much faster than others. Lastly, it doesn’t require any extra energy to trigger the reaction.
“Our method shows it is possible to remove more of these chemicals in a way that is faster, cheaper, cleaner, and very simple,” said Dr. Cheng Zhang, co-author of the study to New Atlas. “Because our process does not need electricity, it can be used in remote and off-grid communities. Our team will now scale up the testing and we hope to have a commercially available product ready in the next three years.”
Source study: Angewandte Chemie — Efficient removal of perfluorinated chemicals from contaminated water using magnetic fluorinated polymer sorbents