By Meg Thode
Researchers from Rice University have developed a new water treatment technology that removes BPA particles from contaminated sources. The team improved upon existing titanium dioxide filters by introducing cyclodextrin molecules which act like “venus flytraps”: the hydrophobic pockets in the sugar molecules attract BPA molecules, trap them in place, and leave them exposed to reactive oxygen species which ‘clean’ them. In the lab, lead by environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez, the new technique scrubbed 90 percent of the BPA in a given water sample in half the time as titanium oxide alone.
The discovery is incredibly helpful as BPA, a molecule present in plastics from water bottles to water mains, has been the target of recent public health concern. In low doses the chemical is not considered dangerous, but prolonged exposure can lead to elevated blood pressure and health complications in small children. There are regulations on its use, but since it is notoriously tricky to degrade, there are concerns about existing levels in water sources. This new technology improves clean water outcomes and, because of the relatively large cyclodextrin molecules, is even reusable. Because of its multifunctionality, Alvarez comments “this new material helps overcome two significant technological barriers for photocatalytic water treatment…” and “is an example of how advanced materials can help convert academic hypes into feasible processes that enhance water security."
Rice University. (2018, October 5). New spheres trick, trap and terminate water contaminant: Reusable water-treatment particles effectively eliminate BPA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181005130827.htm