Membranes Remove Arsenic from Water

  • Author:
  • Published: 10 May 2017
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Chemical Communications/Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
  • Associated Societies: Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), UK
thumbnail image: Membranes Remove Arsenic from Water

The contamination of drinking water with arsenic is a pressing problem in several regions of the world, e.g., Bangladesh, China, and India. This is caused by elevated levels of arsenic compounds in the groundwater. Long-term exposure can lead to adverse health effects, especially skin lesions and cancer. Many of the existing techniques for arsenic removal have problems such as limited effectiveness for arsenic in its +5 oxidation state.

Raffaele Mezzenga, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues have developed an amyloid-carbon hybrid membrane which can efficiently remove both arsenate (oxidation state +5) and arsenite (oxidation state +3) from contaminated groundwater. The team prepared the membranes by mixing a β-lactoglobulin fibril solution with activated carbon and vacuum filtering the resulting solution through cellulose filters. The resulting membranes have a protein fibril content of about 10 %.

The team tested the membranes' arsenic removal properties in a vacuum filtration setup. They found that the material removed both arsenite and arsenate from water with efficiencies of over 98 %. The team also purified contaminated ground water samples from Romania and Guatemala and were able to reduce the overall arsenic concentration to safe, drinkable levels in one filtration step. The team attributes this effective absorption of arsenic compounds to the protein fibrils contained in the membranes. The material could be reused for several filtration cycles without significant saturation effects.


Article Views: 2693

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from, please contact us first for permission. more

CONNECT: on Facebook on Twitter on YouTube on LinkedIn Sign up for our free newsletter

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies)published by Wiley-VCH