Research Highlight

Filter derived from sugar syrup used to treat wastewater 

doi:10.1038/nindia.2019.26 Published online 25 February 2019

The filter can efficiently remove toxic pollutants from various types of industrial wastewater.

© S. Priyadarshini

Researchers have synthesised a novel type of eco-friendly nanoparticle-based solution that can remove toxic pollutants from wastewater, making it potentially useful as a filter for treating industrial wastewater1.

Existing methods mainly use various carbon-based adsorbents that bind to pollutants such as dyes, pigments and drugs, and then remove the pollutants from industrial wastewater. However, most of these adsorbents are expensive and all cannot be reused.

In search of a cheap and reusable adsorbent, scientists from the Centre for Nano and Materials Sciences at Jain Deemed-to-be University in Bangalore and the CSIR-Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute in Gujarat, both in India, made the nanoparticle-based solution using simple sugar syrup. They then tested this solution’s efficiency in removing toxic pollutants from various types of industrial wastewater.

The researchers, led by S. K. Nataraj, found that the solution could act as a microcleaner for selectively removing organic dyes and drugs. It could also act as a catalyst that is capable of breaking down toxic dyes. Being negatively charged, the solution selectively bound to the positively charged pollutants and removed 95 per cent of such pollutants from the wastewater.

The solution displayed pollutant-removing efficiency that is up to 16 times as high as the previously reported carbon-based adsorbents. It can retain its efficiency for up to five cycles of operation and can be regenerated.

The researchers say that it would be possible to design self-propelled micromotors and nanomotors using the solution. It is possible to scale up the production of such tiny motors, which could adsorb and degrade organic pollutants.


1. Halanur, Met al. Engineering Fe-doped highly oxygenated solvothermal carbon from glucose-based eutectic system as active microcleaner and efficient carbocatalyst. J. Mater. Chem. A. (2019) doi: 10.1039/C9TA00006B