Graphene aerogels for water purification first created on a 3D printer

Graphene was already 3D printed, turned into an airgel, and used as a water filter.

However, a team of scientists from the University of Buffalo assures that for the first time all three developments have been combined into one.

To do this, researchers have created a new type of ink.for a graphene-based 3D printer. They added two polymers (polydopamine and bovine serum albumin) to the material for the desired consistency of the product, and then printed the filter on a grid in the shape of a hexagon. The structure was then freeze-dried to an airgel state.

On the left is a 3D printer printing a hexagonal graphene airgel sheet. On the right, an airgel (now black) filters dirty water.

Then the scientists checked how good suchthe filter removes various impurities from the water. It worked best with organic solvents such as hexane, heptane and toluene, removing 100% of contaminants in 10 cycles. The filter also screened out heavy metals - lead and chromium, and organic dyes - Evans' anionic blue and cationic methylene blue. However, in the latter case, the effectiveness decreased to 20% after the third course.

Graphene is incredibly lightweight. This airgel, used to filter water, sits on top of a single fabric. Credit: University of Buffalo.

Previously, nanosheets showed promisingresults in water filtration. The problem is that they are much more difficult to produce on a large scale than their counterparts. The creation of graphene aerogels using new techniques makes them easier to scale. They also leave marks in the water with repeated use.

Recall that graphene is a nanomaterial formed by elemental carbon and consisting of one flat sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal lattice.

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Polydopamine is a synthetic material similar to the adhesive secretion of mussels.

Bovine serum albumin is a protein obtained from cows.