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New process for 3D printing graphene aerogel

Posted by: ZHU Hanping 2021-12-20 Comments Off on New process for 3D printing graphene aerogel

Graphene is good at removing pollutants in water, but this magical material is not yet commercially viable. This situation may change.

In a recent study, engineers at the University of Buffalo reported a new process for 3D printing graphene aerogels, which they said overcomes two key obstacles, scalability and creating a sufficiently stable material Version, to be reused, for water treatment.

New process for 3D printing graphene aerogel

Our goal is to safely remove pollutants in the water without releasing any problematic chemical residues. Dr. Nirupam Aich, the co-author of the study and assistant professor of environmental engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of UB University, said the aerogel we created They can maintain their structure when placed in a water treatment system, and they can be used in different water treatment applications.

The study: “3D printed graphene-biopolymer aerogels for water contaminant removal: a proof of concept” was published in the “Environmental Science: Nano” journal in the Emerging Investigator series. Dr. Arvid Masud, a former student of Aich Lab, is the lead author; Dr. Zhou Chi, associate professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Peking University, is one of the authors of this article.

Aerogel is a light, highly porous solid. It is formed by replacing the liquid in the gel with gas, so that the resulting solid has the same size as the original solid. Their structure is similar to polystyrene foam: they are highly porous, light in weight, but strong and elastic.

Graphene is a nanomaterial composed of elemental carbon, composed of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal lattice.

In order to make graphene inks with the right concentration, researchers turned to nature for help. They added two biopolymers to it: polydopamine (a synthetic material, commonly called PDA, similar to the mussel’s adhesive secretions) and bovine serum albumin (a protein from cows).

In tests, the reconfigured aerogel removed certain heavy metals, such as lead and chromium, which plague drinking water systems across the country. It can also remove organic dyes such as cationic methylene blue and anionic Evans blue, as well as organic solvents such as n-hexane, heptane and toluene.

To prove the reuse potential of aerogels, the researchers used organic solvents in aerogels 10 times. Each time, it removes 100% of the solvent. The researchers also reported that after the third cycle, the aerogel’s ability to capture methylene blue decreased by 2-20%.

Aich said that aerogels can also be scaled up, because unlike nanosheets, aerogels can be printed in larger sizes. He said this eliminates the problems inherent in previous large-scale production and allows the process to be used in large facilities such as sewage treatment plants. He added that aerogels can be removed from the water and reused elsewhere, and they will not leave any residue in the water.

Aich is part of a joint project between UB and the University of Pittsburgh. The project is led by Dr. Diana Aga, a professor of chemistry at UB, to find methods and tools to degrade fluorine and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS is a toxic substance that is difficult to decompose and is called “eternal chemical substance”. Aich noticed the similarities between this and his work on 3D aerogels, and he hopes that the results of these two projects can be combined to create a more effective way to remove contaminants in the water.

We can not only use these aerogels to contain graphene particles, but also use nano-metal particles as catalysts. Aich said that the future goal is to embed nano-metal particles in the walls and surfaces of aerogels. They can not only degrade or destroy organisms. Pollutants can also destroy chemical pollutants.

Aich, Chi, and Masud hold a patent application for the graphene aerogel described in the study, and they are looking for industrial partners to commercialize this process.

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