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The new technology will enable the treatment of industrial high-temperature water.
Diamonds, which are pure carbon structures resulting from high pressures, have countless applications. In addition to their aesthetic qualities, they are used in industrial processes because of their high hardness and are also being used in the manufacture of semiconductors. One of their emerging applications is the purification of water from factories. Typically, reverse osmosis membranes are used to treat this type of wastewater. However, water from industrial applications is often extremely hot, which hinders the membranes' functioning and the purification process. For this reason, it is necessary to cool it first, with the consequent energy cost. Then, if it is to be reused, it then has to be heated again.
Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have explored alternatives to make membranes work with very hot water. The use of nanodiamonds had been tried before, but not under such conditions. To do this, the team then explored a new way to embed the nanodiamonds. They added amines, a derivative of ammonia, to them. Next, they resorted to an ethyl acetate bath that prevents the nanodiamonds from clumping and preserves the structure. And finally, they used a monomer that reacted with the amines and attached the nanodiamonds to the membrane. In tests, the new membrane maintained its effectiveness for nine hours at a temperature of 75 C. Thus, this innovative technology could open the door to the treatment and reuse of industrial water with a lower carbon footprint.
The properties of nanodiamonds also have applications in the medical world. One of the problems with traditional bandages is that they need to be removed to check if a wound has become infected, with the patient's consequent discomfort. At RMIT University in Australia, they have proposed a new generation of smart bandages to detect infectious processes. One of an infection's characteristics is that there is a rise in skin temperature, and diamonds are susceptible to biological temperature.
The researchers used silk fibers into which they integrated nanodiamonds employing an electrospinning process. By measuring the temperature of the new silk fabric, any physician will be able to determine the wound's condition. Not only that, tests have shown that the material has antibacterial properties. Also, its structure maintains the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the affected area. Scientists believe that these innovative smart bandages could be manufactured at a reasonable cost despite the materials used.
Back to water purification, if you want to know more about new, more efficient, and sustainable processes, we recommend this article on solar-powered water purification. There are also innovative water purification technologies inspired by the animal and plant kingdom, such as this system based on manta ray gills or this one inspired by plant roots.