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Egg Whites: Removes nearly 100% of microplastics from water

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In recent years, microplastics have become the absolute protagonists in the issue of environmental problems because they literally devastate ecosystems, even in the most remote areas of the planet. Environmental scientists are trying just about everything to try to rid the planet of microplastics and keep our waterways clean.

 

The idea of ​​using eggs in the latter experiment was initially floated by study author Craig Arnold, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. Before getting to eggs he was trying a mix of bread mixed with egg whites and carbon, because he thought it would produce the filter structure he had idealized. After much trial and error with different recipes, Arnold and his team started stripping away ingredients until they were left with just the egg whites.

“We started with a more complex system,” Arnold explains in a statement, “and kept reducing, reducing, reducing, until we got to the heart of the matter. It was the proteins in the egg whites that led to the structures we needed.” Egg whites are almost entirely made up of albumin (which is a protein). Once freeze-dried and heated to 900 degrees Celsius, they generate a structure of filaments of fibrous carbon and graphene . The authors of this study found that this facility has the ability to remove both salt and microplastics from seawater dramatically, with an efficiency of 98% and 99%, respectively. What has been obtained from egg whites is therefore an airgel light weight and porous that can be used in a variety of ways including water filtration, energy storage, sound and insulation.

Arnold confirms that other proteins also worked, so it may be possible to use them. The researchers are now studying how to improve the manufacturing process so that this technology can be used on a large scale. Once this issue is addressed, the use of these structures will work seamlessly as an energy effective and cost effective method.

 

 

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  • Researchers cook up a new way to remove microplastics from water. (engineering.princeton.edu)
  • Egg protein derived ultralightweight hybrid monolithic aerogel for water purification (sciencedirect.com)
 
 

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