TechJeans can help the environment. Scientists reveal how

Jeans can help the environment. Scientists reveal how

Jeans can help in the fight against nanoplastic.
Jeans can help in the fight against nanoplastic.
Images source: © Unsplash
ed. KMO

8:54 AM EDT, October 25, 2023

Scientists have discovered that an element in Prussian blue, a substance commonly used to give jeans their blue color, effectively accelerates the process of removing nanoplastics from water. According to researchers, this compound could be implemented in sewage treatment plants and water purification stations.

Plastic pollution is a problem that has long been a concern among scientists. This is not just about large waste, which over time breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, reaching the sizes of micro- and nanometers.

Nanoplastic is a serious problem

The authors of a new study, published in the journal "Water Research", explain that particles with a diameter larger than approximately 0.0008 inches cannot even be removed from the water in typical treatment stations. To effectively remove them, it is necessary to cause them to form much larger agglomerations. This can be achieved by using special substances containing iron or aluminum ions, but these substances have a serious flaw - they remain in the water and are toxic to humans.

Researchers from the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) suggest that Prussian blue could be an alternative - a safe substance, based on a metal-organic skeleton, commonly used to dye jeans blue. In the past, after the disaster in Fukushima, it was noted that Prussian blue could be used to remove radioactive cesium from water.

While testing this dye property, scientists from KIST discovered that it also has the ability to remove nanoplastic. As a result of modifying Prussian blue, they were able to increase its effectiveness, and now it allows for the removal of even plastic particles as small as 0.0000059 inches.

When Prussian blue is introduced into water and exposed to sunlight, it causes nanoplastic particles to form aggregates thousands of times larger, which can be easily removed.

As part of the experiments conducted so far, scientists have managed to purify water from such particles with 99 percent effectiveness.

What's more, the particles developed by researchers are so efficient that they are capable of aggregating nanoplastic with a weight up to three times greater than their own. Compared to previously used iron or aluminum-based compounds, this invention is 250 times more effective. An additional advantage is that once their job is done, Prussian blue can easily be removed from the water.

"This technology has a lot of commercial potential. This material can be applied in rivers, sewage treatment plants, water treatment stations" - says Dr. Jae-Woo Choi from KIST.

"The principle of how this material operates makes it possible to use it for removing not only microplastics but also various contaminants from the water," - adds the first author of the publication, Dr. Youngkyun Jung.

See also