The Membrane Laboratory of the Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán A. C. (CICY) developed a membrane capable of rejecting artificial colorants and salts, with potential application in the treatment of wastewater from the textile industry, informed Dr. Manuel de Jesús Aguilar Vega, researcher of the Materials Unit.
What is the discovery about?
Through the doctoral thesis of the student Mauricio Huhn Ibarra, a membrane was created that significantly reduces salts and colorants in wastewater from textile processes.
Why is it different from previous findings?
Because this membrane developed has a double nanofiltration layer to which nanometric particles of modified carbon nanotubes, which is a pure carbon material of hexagonal shape, are added in its external layer, forming rolled layers. This makes it more efficient and improves its properties of rejecting salts and materials deposited on its surface.
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
One of the main water pollutants comes from dyes, substances widely used in the textile, pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics and paper industries, most of which are complex aromatic chemical structures and resistant to degradation, even when exposed to conventional and advanced treatment processes.
Why is this technology so necessary?
Today there are more than 100,000 commercially available dyes, with an annual production of 700,000 tons, and it is estimated that more than 15 percent of all of them are released into the environment during their synthesis or dyeing process, together with the use of salts derived from the dye fixation process, which are also released into water effluents.
Is it already applied in the industry?
Not yet, but this technology has already been tested in the laboratory where it was proven that the addition of carbon nanotubes improved the rejection of salts such as sodium sulfate (Na2SO4), magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) and methylene blue dye (AM).
What were the results?
A two-fold increase in the rejection of salts and methylene blue was achieved, as well as a 25 percent reduction in particle deposition in tests with a protein called bovine serum albumin, compared to high-performance commercial membranes.