Mexican researchers have developed a new adsorbent material, made from orange and grapefruit peels, that could help clean highly contaminated wastewater. The new process, called Instant Controlled Pressure Drop (ICPD) treatment, modifies the structure of the residues, giving them adsorbent properties such as a greater porosity and surface area.
The researchers spearheading this project are from the University of Granada (UGR), Centre for Electrochemical Research and Technological Development (Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico en Electroquímica, CIDETEQ) and the Centre of Engineering and Industrial Development (Centro de Ingeniería y Desarrollo Industrial, CIDESI).
Researcher, Luis Alberto Romero Cano, from the Carbon Materials Research Team at the Faculty of Science, UGR, explains that by a subsequent chemical treatment, they, “…have managed to add functional groups to the material, thus making it selective in order to remove metals and organic pollutants present in water…”
Mr Romero Cano said, “…The results show a great potential for the use of said materials as adsorbents capable of competing with commercial activated carbon for the adsorption and recovery of metals present in wastewater, in a way that it could be possible to carry out sustainable processes in which products with a great commercial value could be obtained from food industry residues…”
Fruit peels are wastes which pose a problem for the food industry, given that they take up a great volume and aren’t very useful at present. According to experts, 38.2 million tons of fruit peels are produced worldwide each year by the food industry.