New method for removing lead from water developed by MIT engineers

The improved version might be used to treat home water sources as well as industrial applications.

water quality
MIT engineers have devised a new method for eliminating lead and other heavy metal pollutants from water.
The new process, according to MIT, is more energy-efficient than any other system now in use, and it may be used to remediate lead-contaminated water sources at home, as well as with chemical or industrial processes.
The system is the most latest in a series of applications developed by members of the MIT research team six years ago.

The process was first created for desalination of seawater or brackish water, according to the engineers, and was then adapted for removing radioactive chemicals from nuclear power plant cooling water.

According to MIT, the findings were published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology – Water in an article by Huanhuan Tian, Mohammad Alkhadra, and Kameron Conforti, MIT graduate students, and Martin Bazant, professor of chemical engineering.

Shock electrodialysis is used in this method, in which an electric field is used to create a shockwave inside an electrically charged porous material conveying the polluted water. As the voltage rises, the shock wave propagates from one side to the other, separating the feed stream into a saline and a fresh stream. The consequence, according to the study, is a 95% reduction in lead in the outgoing fresh stream.

According to MIT, one of the process’ disadvantages is that it has only been demonstrated on a small laboratory scale and at sluggish flow rates.

This technology, according to the MIT team, could be useful as a stopgap fix in places like Flint, Michigan.

The method could be modified for a variety of industrial applications, such as cleansing water from mining or drilling activities. The project was supported by a MathWorks Engineering Fellowship and a Xylem, Inc.-funded fellowship at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab.

Source: Water & Waste Digest Magazine