These Nanojars Can Capture Dissolved Carbon Dioxide From Water – And They Can Help In Reducing Pollution

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Researchers have developed nanojars that can capture carbonates and other pollutants in water.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide has by far gotten the most attention as an environmental issue, but mostly it ends up in oceans and grows to be more acidic. So scientists are now creating “nanojars” that effortlessly catches this and various other pollutants from water.

Nanojars are basically molecules comprising of copper ions, pyrazole groups, and repeating units of hydroxide, barred in organic solvents. These molecules cover the target and neutralise it upon encountering a -2 charged ion-containing several major contaminants such as chromate, arsenate, phosphate and carbonate.

“We’ve shown that we can extract chromate and arsenate to below US Environmental Protection Agency-permitted levels for drinking water – really, really low levels,” says Gellert Mezei, a scientist on the project.

The nanojars can then be separated from the water due to the solvent floating on top of the water, forming a layer on the surface. When the nanojar solvent is eliminated from the water body, the weak acid alone unravels the nanojar and releases trapped ions. These can be safely disposed of or recycled into useful products.

In addition, these nanojars can be modified to target various ions. For example, one pyrazole creates nanojars that track the presence of -2 charged ions, however using two propylene linker bounded pyrazoles target sulfate powerfully. In addition, utilizing two pyrazoles tied to ethylene improves their binding to carbonate, a significant pollutant.

When carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in the sea, it can produce bicarbonate ions. Too many of these can change the water and increase its acidity. It, in turn, causes chaos in the aquatic environment, manipulating a wide range of biological activities. In addition, it can further increase emissions in the atmosphere.

Cleaning these pollutants is quite a significant task; however, the team warns that the nanojars are currently in their early development phases. Therefore, how they could be improved for practical use will be the focus of future study.

“Whether this process for removing carbon dioxide from water – and indirectly, the atmosphere – would be competitive with other technologies that I don’t know yet,” says Mezei. “There are many aspects that have to be taken into account, and that’s a tricky business.”

The research was submitted at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society 2021.

Source: American Chemical Society

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