The polyurethane based material can remove various heavy metals from seawater and can be used for small plants and industrial processes
Water pollution caused by metals such as cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, zinc generate nausea, convulsiomas, kidney problems, cancer and other serious health problems. The methods used at the moment are expensive and require complex techniques. A new invention, presented during E-nnovate 2020, proposes a cheaper and more adaptable alternative for use in sewage treatment plants. The idea was presented by Akram Hijazi, Wassef Al Khatib, Rim Nasser El-Dine, Mounir Kassir, Mohamad Al-Iskandarani and Mostafa Hamieh and won the silver medal. The material consists of polyurethane, in the form of foam and elastomer, enriched with zeolites or carbon nanotubes derived from banana.
The material has been patented and has shown excellent properties when used in small or industrial plants. The inventors, all members of the Lebanese Innovators Society, described their invention to our newspaper.
Can you explain how the birth of your invention? How did you get the idea?
“Given the increasing of water pollution in the current period, which has become a serious pest threatening the life of living organisms, and the scarcity in water resources, it was imperative to find solutions to these problems by resorting to a new, inexpensive and environmentally friendly method. The idea of our invention came through the manufacture of sophisticated filters supported with active carbon made from banana stems (banana stems can be obtained at a very cheap price or for free) in order to purify polluted water and desalinate salt water to take advantage of unavailable water resources”.
How does your invention improve existing technologies?
“Several processes have been used in order to treat water pollution and desalt sea water which include chemical precipitation, ion exchange, cementation, coagulation and flocculation, complexation, biosorption, and membrane processes. In our patent we use adsorption (by filters) at the low cost adsorbents as a replacement for the expensive current methods. These filters can be recycled and used many times and use for small scale also for industrial process. It can be able to clean the water from different ionic metal and organic pollutants as dye and pesticides and charged to polymer, we can also change the cavity of polymer foam to be selective to different adsorbent”.
Has the idea already been patented or do you plan to patent it?
“The idea has been patented from the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade, in addition to obtaining local and international awards from the Lebanese Innovators Society and the E-NNOVATE Platform“.
What will be the next step? How do you plan to implement your invention or its diffusion?
“The idea is under continuous development and we seek to expand our research scope through several points: applying a series assembly of the polyurethane foam and increase the length of the column to ensure total water purification polluted; carry out new studies on a large number of plants in order to put it them in the filters; carry out a broader study on pollutants to market these filters on an industrial scale and to encourage people to use it in houses to purify water domestic which is a universal problem”.