2019 | Bangladesh | Md. Shahriar Hasan, Didarul Islam,

A Novel Approach for Purifying Contaminated Drinking Water using Carbon Aerogel Electrodes Synthesized from Thermoplastic Waste

Water issue adressed: Too dirty
“If we could produce fresh water from salt water at a low cost, that would indeed be a great service to humanity, and would dwarf any other scientific accomplishment.”-John F. Kennedy

The major emphasis of this study was to develop a rapid, portable and highly-effective water purification device for on-spot water remediation with minimal energy consumption in a single design. Capacitive deionization (CDI) is an emerging and promising technique for addressing this goal and thus carbon aerogels (CAs) was synthesized from thermoplastic waste as a potential electrode material for fabricating CDI electrode. A non-invasive, straightforward and chemical-free strategy was developed to synthesize CAs by overcoming the fundamental synthesizing route drawbacks of the typical sol-gel method. In addition, CAs were immobilized on a locally available, biocompatible and flexible jute thread substrate in a simple and scalable pathway for an effective electrode-water interface. The single-pass filtration experiments conducted at 1.2 V through the gravitational force demonstrated that the electrode fabricated from PET carbon aerogels is superiorly efficient by eliminating approximately 100% of both NaCl and As (5+) contaminants ions across a wide range of feedstock concentrations (50-1000 ppm) due to the rapid formation of the electrical double layer. Additionally, the electrode fabricated from mixed plastic carbon aerogels exhibits overall high filtration efficiency of 93.53% at the intermediate concentration range of <1000 ppm, where the commercial reverse osmosis system was proven relatively ineffective. This interdisciplinary study opens numerous possibilities for generating potable and affordable water using rapid, miniaturized and versatile devices during natural disasters or other emergency situations when the access to electrical power is inadequate with protecting the ecosystem from the consequences of thermoplastic debris problem.

This is how I came up with the idea for this project:

Bangladesh is suffering from the devastating contaminated groundwater aquifers and plastic waste crisis for the past few years. Growing up in such a tragic situation from childhood it always triggered us to think more about environmental issues and develop a solution to tackling these problems.


Ania Andersch

Programme manager ania.andersch@siwi.org +46 8 121 360 59