Micelle-Laden hydrogel microparticles for the removal of hydrophobic micropollutants from water

An article co-authored by Devashish Ghokale, 2022-2023 Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) principal investigator, Patrick Doyle, J-WAFS-affiliated researcher and Ian Chen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student researcher examines the use of hydrogel-based polymers to remove micropollutants from water.

From the paper's abstract: 'Micropollutants, which occur at low concentration in the environment, are ubiquitous, hazardous, and difficult to remove from water by using current methods. This work introduces hydrogel-based polymeric absorbents containing immobilised micelles for the removal of hydrophobic micropollutants from water. Acrylated surfactants are synthesized and self-assemble into micelles with hydrophobic cores. The acrylate groups enable the incorporation of micelles into poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels by free radical polymerization. NMR spectroscopy is used to characterise the cross-linked hydrogels. The hydrogels are formulated into microparticles by using droplet-based microfluidics to speed uptake by increasing surface area. Hydrophobic micropollutants quickly partition into the immobilised micelles within these microparticles, with mass transfer coefficients greater than those determined for a commercially available activated carbon that is frequently used for water purification. Finally, a sustainable and facile method of regenerating spent absorbent is demonstrated.'


American Chemical Society