January 28, 2014

Nanoparticle Fiber Purifies Water

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By BARBARA FORCE

A rapid, simple technique involving a fiber-nanoparticle hybrid can rid polluted waterways of toxic dyes, thanks in part to a Prof. Juan Hinestroza, fiber science. The technique uses the natural structure of tropical plant surfaces to house nanotechnology that completely degrades dangerous dyes.

Textile factories across the world often pollute nearby waterways with dyes such as indigo which, is used in blue jeans. As a result, water becomes too toxic for human use. In parts of the world where safe water is hard to come by, these dyes become a nightmare. Not only are they unsafe to consume, but they are physically dangerous when they come in contact with substances such as cotton or other tough plant materials, according to Hinestroza.

Hinestroza worked with Dr. Marianny Combariza and Dr. Christian Blanco of the Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia to design and test the nanoparticle fiber treatment.

The process is rapid. In a demonstration using indigo dye, the toxic water changed from a deep blue color to an aqua shade within a minute. It then changed to yellow and then became clear in the time it takes to walk up Libe Slope or order a bubble tea. The process is temperature dependent. In warmer climates, the process is faster, while in a laboratory in frigid Ithaca, the process takes longer.

Courtesy of Prof. Juan HinestrozaDynamic detoxyfication | The beaker on the left shows water contaminated with indigo dye. The beaker on the right has been treated with fibers developed by a Cornell scientist.

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