IISER Bhopal scientists produce nanoparticles for water desalination and purification


Bhopal: To address the scarcity of clean drinking water, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal (IISER) has successfully produced magnetic nanoparticles, that can be used for various applications, including seawater desalination, water purification, and de-icing.

The research was led by Dr. Sankar Chakma, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IISER Bhopal. The findings of this research group have been published in journal American Chemical Society, EST Engineering.

The paper was co-authored by Vishrant Kumar, Abhinav Chandel, Prachi Upadhyay, and Dr Sankar Chakma.

As per the research “these nanoparticles have been engineered for multiple applications such as heat and light-induced removal of salt from seawater, the extraction of potable water from wastewater contaminated with dyes and deicing and anti-icing processes”

“It is estimated that around two-thirds of the world’s population will soon live in regions with water scarcity issues. To address this, desalination, a process that can provide local water sources for about 40% of coastal communities, is crucial” said the statement.

As per UN around 771 million people lack access to clean water, which means 1 in 10 people on the planet.

Explaining the significance of this research, Dr. Sankar Chakma, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IISER Bhopal, said, “The photothermal desalination using our magnetic nanoparticles was effective with excellent water evaporation rate.

“This is because of improved mass transfer through a porous medium, like transpiration and capillary action, aiding faster upward
movement of water molecules” he added.

Talking about the technical aspects of their experiments, Dr. Sankar Chakma, the lead researcher, said, “Porous magnetic carbon materials are excellent for photothermal applications because they interact with light waves in unique ways. The interaction is more effective with highly porous materials, as they offer additional pathways for waves to bounce around and be absorbed.”

The researchers used a simple method inspired by Indian earthen lamps to produce the magnetic Porous Carbon Nanoparticles.

The process involved saturating cotton with nickel salt and mustard oil, and igniting it using a lighter, resulting in the formation of these specialized MNPs.

The synthesized MNP was assessed for its photothermal activities for three purposes – Photothermal Desalination of Simulated
Seawater, Photothermal Separation of Dye Molecules from Effluent and De-icing applications.

The study further showed that the nanoparticles could completely remove dye molecules from water when exposed to light and heat. Furthermore, these nanoparticles absorb Near-Infrared radiation from their environment, leading to effective de-icing properties as they heat up.


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