Clean Water Using Sunlight and Spinach-Based Filter

Greg Howard
12th March, 2024

Clean Water Using Sunlight and Spinach-Based Filter

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers in Egypt developed a method to break down dyes in water using spinach-derived biochar and light
  • The spinach biochar method removed 83.36% of methylene blue dye, outperforming other systems
  • This approach also effectively degraded other pollutants and worked well in real wastewater treatment
In recent years, the pollution caused by synthetic dyes has become a significant environmental concern, particularly for water bodies receiving industrial wastewater. Among these pollutants, methylene blue (MB), a common dye used in textiles, poses a notable threat due to its persistence and potential toxicity. Researchers from the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) have developed a new approach to tackle this issue using a material derived from an unlikely source: spinach leaves[1]. The study focuses on a novel biochar, a carbon-rich product obtained by heating organic matter in a limited oxygen environment. This biochar, specifically made from spinach leaves, was used to activate a compound called persulfate (PS). When activated, PS generates reactive species that can break down contaminants like dyes. This method of using biochar with PS under visible light conditions represents a promising solution to degrade MB effectively. The biochar's physical and chemical properties were meticulously analyzed to understand how it enhances the PS activation process. The findings showed that the biochar, when combined with light, activated the PS to degrade MB with an impressive efficiency of 83.36%. This efficiency outperformed other systems that used hydrogen peroxide and peroxymonosulfate as activators instead of PS. To optimize the degradation process, the researchers employed response surface methodology, a statistical tool that helps in identifying the best operational conditions. They discovered that not only did the biochar excel at degrading MB, but it also showed high degradation ratios for other pollutants like bromothymol blue dye, paracetamol, and chlorpyrifos under the optimal conditions. The workhorse behind this degradation was identified as sulfate radicals. These highly reactive molecules are known for their ability to break down complex molecules into simpler, less harmful ones. The system's robustness was highlighted by its consistent performance, maintaining high removal efficiencies for MB even after five consecutive uses. The practicality of the (BC + light)/PS system was further emphasized by its application in treating real textile wastewater. The system achieved a remarkable MB removal efficiency of 98.31% and was able to significantly reduce the amount of dissolved organic carbon, indicating a high level of pollutant mineralization. This study's approach to pollutant degradation is not only effective but also sustainable. Previous research has shown that biochar can be a low-cost and eco-friendly material when derived from agricultural waste[2]. The E-JUST study builds on this by demonstrating the potential of spinach-derived biochar in industrial applications. Moreover, the study echoes earlier findings where biochar was used to activate persulfate for the degradation of atrazine, an agricultural contaminant, with high efficiency and recyclability[3]. The research also aligns with findings on the role of colloids in natural water systems. Colloids, which include particles like the iron species studied in previous research, can enhance the activation of hydrogen peroxide, leading to the efficient degradation of contaminants like methylene blue[4]. While the E-JUST study does not directly use colloids, it similarly employs a catalyst to activate a powerful oxidizing agent, leading to pollutant breakdown. Furthermore, the study complements research on the sustainable management of waste, such as toner waste, which was carbonized to produce nanomaterials that activate persulfate for degrading various contaminants[5]. The E-JUST study adds to this body of work by providing another example of how waste materials can be transformed into valuable resources for environmental remediation. In conclusion, the E-JUST research presents a novel and effective method for the degradation of synthetic dyes and other pollutants using biochar derived from spinach leaves. This method not only showcases the potential for agricultural waste to contribute to environmental sustainability but also paves the way for more industrial-scale applications in wastewater treatment. The study's findings offer hope for cleaner water and a healthier environment, demonstrating the power of innovative scientific solutions to combat pollution.



Main Study

1) Effective degradation of synthetic micropollutants and real textile wastewater via a visible light-activated persulfate system using novel spinach leaf-derived biochar.

Published 11th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Review of biochar production via crop residue pyrolysis: Development and perspectives.

3) Effective degradation of atrazine by spinach-derived biochar via persulfate activation system: Process optimization, mechanism, degradation pathway and application in real wastewater.

4) Colloidal iron species driven enhanced H2O2 decomposition into hydroxyl radicals for efficient removal of methylene blue from water.

5) Green valorization of end-of-life toner powder to iron oxide-nanographene nanohybrid as a recyclable persulfate activator for degrading emerging micropollutants.

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