A team of engineers and researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis have developed a graphene-based bio foam that is capable of filtering or cleaning water just by simply being put on the surface. The team of researchers said that they have created the bio foam which utilizes 2 nano cellulose layers in order to draw more water in and strain out any particles or contaminants from the water.
According to the team of engineers from the university, the bottom layer has cellulose while a form of graphene oxide made up the top layer. As the bio foam is put on the water, sunlight is efficiently being absorbed by the graphene oxide which allows it to generate more heat and in turn causes water to be soaked up into the bio foam. After the water was thoroughly absorbed by the bio foam, the water then turns into vapor or simply evaporates, leaving behind particles which then condense on the top sheet for collection.
The researchers and scientists from the Washing ton University in St. Louis further explained that the bi-layered hybrid foam is generally made up of bacterial nanocelluose or also known as BNC layer and the reduced graphene oxide (RGO) – filled BNC layer is carefully introduced in order to produce a very efficient solar steam generation. The study further expounded that the foam shows a solar thermal efficiency of ≈83% under simulated solar illumination (10 kW m–2), and this method according to the engineers and scientists being introduced is not just very scalable but is also very cost-efficient, if not very cost effective.
The engineers and scientists behind this innovative project believe that although the bio foam that can passively filter or purify the dirty water is already a vey novel one, they still deemed or believed that the manufacturing process is much more revolutionary, more innovative and considered a groundbreaking idea. The engineers and scientists thoroughly explained that the process involves bacteria that were laid down over the seed material in order to build up each layer, a process that is almost similar how a pearl is formed. The engineers then flake graphene particles over the cellulose before it eventually dries and hardens.
The combination of the novel production process and the materials used make the bio foam very affordable. Utilizing the bacteria, large bio foam sheets could be created on a much larger scale, a size huge enough to be used to filter or clean dirty water in small villages and populations. This could be the answer to the areas experiencing drought and those areas that has a source of water but not potable or unfit for human consumption.
Considering that the layers were created utilizing bacteria, the engineers and scientists composed of Qisheng Jiang, Limei Tian, Keng-Ku Liu, Sirimuvva Tadepalli, Ramesh Raliya, Pratim Biswas, Rajesh Naik and Srikanth Singamaneni now have the most ideal means or way to change the materials flaked into the foam which in turn have lead to the creation of specially made foams which is intended to be used for either dirtier or for cleaner water sources.