Electrochemical Technique Zaps Tiny Amounts of Pollution from Water

When removing very low concentrations of pollutants from water, existing methods can be very energy- and chemical-intensive. A new method developed at MIT could be an alternative for removing even extremely low levels of unwanted compounds. The system relies on an electrochemical process to selectively remove organic contaminants like pesticides, chemical waste products, and pharmaceuticals. In the new system, the water flows between chemically treated surfaces that serve as positive and negative electrodes. These electrode surfaces are coated with Faradaic materials, which can undergo reactions to become positively or negatively charged. These active groups can be tuned to bind strongly with a specific type of pollutant molecule. The MIT researchers found that this process can effectively remove such molecules even at parts-per-million concentrations.