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Application of nanoparticles in wastewater


Article in Pollution Research · January 2014


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3 authors, including:

Sivakumar Durairaj
Veltech High Tech Dr.Rangarajan Dr.Sakunthala Engineering College


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Poll Res. 33 (3) : 567-571 (2014)
Copyright © EM International
ISSN 0257–8050


Department of Civil Engineering, Sathyabama University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Department of Civil Engineering, Vel Tech High Tech Dr. Rangarajan Dr. Sakunthala Engineering College,
Avadi, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Nanotechnology is a branch of study, which deals with the molecular level re-arrangement of
atoms. This is becoming the active and advanced topic nowadays. Particles whose size lower than
100 nanometer are involved. Although the particles which have size lesser than 100 nm are
considered as nanoparticles, nowadays, people use the word nano for tiny particles. The word
nano is used in more areas in modern world, e.g., Tata nano car. Nanotechnology has its own
applications in many branches of science and engineering such as medicine, biotechnology, food
and beverages, aerospace, chemical, construction, environmental, consumer goods such as fabrics,
textiles, sports, cosmetics, military, fire protection etc. In particular, the application of
nanotechnology in the field of environmental engineering such as water treatment is wider.
Various environmental problems can be addressed and future problems can be averted by using
the various concepts in nanotechnology. Many researches are going on in the field of
nanotechnology for solving different environmental problems such as water, and wastewater
pollution. This paper mainly focuses on the various types of nanomaterials in the field of waste
water treatment and along with the future prospective.

KEY WORDS : Nanoparticles, Water Pollution, Wastewater Pollution

INTRODUCTION water sources. There are many evidences to support

the positive effects of nanotechnology in the area of
Water pollution is becoming a major problem waste water treatment. The particle used in
throughout the world. Water is being polluted by nanotechnology is of very lesser size say lesser than
various means of sources such as textile industry, 100nm.Nanoparticles has very high absorbing,
dye house, factory, poultry etc. This polluted water interacting and reacting capabilities due to its small
brings more health hazards to the population and size with high proportion of atoms at surface. It can
caused more social, economical problems. There are even be mixed with aqueous suspensions and thus
certain numbers of ways to overcome this problem. can behave as colloid (Prachi, et al., 2010). The
One of the recent technologies used in treating the various methods of synthesis, applications of
contaminated water is nanotechnology. nanoparticles mainly depend on the field at which it
Nanotechnology is a term used worldwide as a is used. Nowadays, a new term is coined in the
token of advanced technology. This technology modern era, which is nothing but green
mainly emphasize on the greater applications of nanotechnology. Green nanotechnology is aimed at
lighter particles, but with strong environmental bringing the cleaner eco system since the cleaner
impact. and healthier environment is the need of the hour.
Nanotechnology holds great potential in The main objective of green nanotechnology is to;
advancing water and wastewater treatment to (i) Minimize environmental risks
improve treatment efficiency as well as to augment (ii) Minimize various health hazards
water supply through safe use of unconventional (iii) Replace existing hazardous particle with
Research Scholar, 2Professor
Corresponding author’s email:

nanoparticles which are of minimal unwanted also eradicates Legionnaires’ disease, which is
effects caused by buildup in pipes, connections and water
One of the important factor need to be considered tanks. Research has shown that the catalytic action
in nanotechnology is larger surface area to volume of silver, in concert with oxygen, provides a
ratio. This larger surface area paves the way for powerful sanitizer that virtually eliminates the need
future researches in surface based sciences. Various for the use of corrosive chlorine.
types of nanoparticles are discussed in the Silver nanoparticle has adverse effect on sludge,
upcoming topics. that impact the aerobic and anaerobic
microorganisms. Silver ions and silver nanoparticles
TYPES OF NANOPARTICLES concentrations as low as 0.4 mg/L inhibited the
growth of nitrifying bacteria. In addition, anaerobic
Silver Nanoparticles microbial activity in biomass (i.e., sewage sludge)
Nanomaterials and their increasing use in was inhibited at silver nanoparticles concentrations
manufactured products are of great concern to of 19 mg/L (Parthasarathi, 2009).
wastewater treatment systems and the environment. Nanomaterials are very much useful in the
Silver has been equally popular for domestic use secondary treatment of waste water by binding on
since the ancient times (Pradeep and Anshup, 2009). the cell surface of the microorganisms that present in
Silver vessels were utilized for the preservation of the sludge. It is believed however that the inhibitory
perishable items as well as for disinfection of water. effect of silver is due to its sorption to negatively
Silver was widely used as a disinfectant and anti- charged bacterial cell walls, deactivating cellular
spoilage agent, across many civilizations (Greece, enzymes, disrupting membrane permeability, and
Rome, Phoenicia, Macedonia). Silver nanoparticle is ultimately leading to cell lysis and death, also
one of the most important and widely used types of believed that silver in the nano scale could be
nanoparticles. Nanosilver has been used for more therefore more reactive with its increased catalytic
than 150 years in the form of colloidal silver, and has properties (Michael, 2012).
been registered as a biocidal material in the United Titanium Dioxide
States since 1954 (Kim, et al., 2010).
The methods which are generally used for water
Silver nanoparticles are known as excellent
treatment such as traditional biological and physic
antimicrobial agents, and therefore they could be
chemical methods, have their own advantage of
used as an alternative disinfectant agent. silver
removing the toxic chemicals and substances in
nanoparticles are increasingly used as biocides in a
waste water and has more antibacterial activity
wide range of products. The application of
(Parthasarathi, 2009). But all types of biodegradable
nanoparticles in silver form varies from household
compounds are not efficiently removed these
paints to artificial prosthetic device. The extensive
traditional and older methods of treatment. At this
application of the silver nanoparticle results in their
point, we have nanoparticles which act a
inevitable release into the environment. On the other
photocatalysts and are used for decomposition of
hand, released silver nanoparticles could pose a
toxic organic compounds present in the wastewater.
threat to naturally occurring microorganisms.
One of the important nanoparticle which acts as
Nanosilver has become one of the most popular
photocatalyst is Titanium di oxide nanoparticle.
nanoparticles due to its many applications and
Generally titanium oxide is available in three
relatively low manufacturing costs. It is currently
different phases such as anatase, rutile and brookite.
being used in a wide variety of commercial products
Each of them will be in different sizes. Nowadays
including medical applications, water purification,
Titanium dioxide is widely used for the preparation
antimicrobial uses, paints, coatings, food packaging.
of nanomaterials such as nanotubes, nanowires. TiO2
Impregnating other materials with silver
has the potential application for removing the toxic
nanoparticles is a practical way to exploit the germ
compound from waste water. The nanocrystalline
fighting properties of silver (Bogumila, et al., 2013).
titanium di oxide (NTO) is often used in
Silver ions are also used into water purification
photocatalytic water treatment. The poorly
systems in hospitals, community water systems,
biodegradable water pollutants can be treated by
pools and spas. It is slowly replacing chlorine as the
photocatalytic degradation by the use of TiO 2
widespread element of choice for filtration. Silver
nanoparticle (Dhermendra, 2008).

Synthesis of Titanium dioxide nanoparticles can drug delivery devices and machines.
be achieved by Even though these nanoparticles are lighter, they
1. Hydolysis of Titanium (IV) isopropoxide or have their own remarkable strength as their
Titanium (IV) chloride property. These are also used in bicycle components,
2. Flame hydrolysis method golf clubs, skis and tennis rackets. Ultra-light and
The hydrogen production and water purification strong materials can be prepared with the use of
are the features associated with the use of titanium carbon nanotubes. These materials are used in
di oxide nanoparticle. aircraft and cars which will be used for energy
These methods of degradation of pollutants saving and energy usage purposes. These carbon
present in wastewater are done mainly by a series of nanotubes act as adsorbents in order to treat the
hydroxylation reactions (OH). Electron whole pairs wastewater. These adsorbents act on the impurities
of NTA are produced in the nanocrystalline titanium and toxic substances present in the wastewater.
di oxide semiconductor photocatalyst with the Carbon nanotubes are used for the removal lead,
application of UV light illumination. These holes are cadmium and organic pollutants from water, since
positively charged ones. These holes charges when CNTs have excellent adsorption property promising
in contact with the water molecules thus form OH (Li, et al., 2007). The adsorption capabilities can be
and H+ ions. The electrons will act with dissolved greatly governed by the morphologies of the CNTs.
oxygen to produce superoxide ions (O2-). These, CNTs with poor crystallinity and morphology can
then combine with water molecules to form be easily introduced with much more functional
hydroxide ions (OH–) and peroxide radicals (OOH) groups, interestingly leading to better adsorption
(Manoj, et al., 2012). The peroxide will then act with capabilities. Treatment with oxidants will be able to
H+ ions to form OH and OH-. The holes thus promote the dispersibility of the CNTs.
oxidize OH- to OH. Thus finally the formation of Activated carbon nanoparticle is one important
OH is facilitated, and these radicals act and help in type of carbon nanoparticle. The material activated
degradation of the pollutants in the solution. carbon nanoparticle makes it porous. This will be
used in adsorption process or chemical reactions.
Carbonaceous Nanoparticle
Large surface area is the main characteristic feature
Carbon is a non-metallic element. It ranks the sixth of activated carbon nanoparticle (Babak Kakavandi,
in the list of most abundantly available elements. et al., 2013). Activated carbon nanoparticle is used in
The major source of carbon is from coal deposits. It the process of cancer treatment. Once the adsorptive
ranks the second most abundantly element in the capacity has been reached, the carbon can be
human body, the first one is Oxygen. regenerated and reactivated and this process of
Morphology of carbon nanoparticle is spherical regeneration and reactivation will determine the
and is available in the form of black powder. Density economical application of activated carbon.
of carbon nanoparticle is 2.2670 g/cm3 and molar Regeneration is termed to mean the processes which
mass is 12.01 g/mol. The main characteristic feature are used to recover the adsorptive capacity of the
of the carbonaceous nanoparticle is high capacity. carbon spent. Adsorptive capacity of about 4 to 10%
These act as selective sorbents for organic solutes in will be lost during the regeneration process. So the
the aqueous solutions. The history of carbonaceous processing and approach to regenerate is of prime
nanoparticle dates back to the pre historic times. importance. Reactivation of granular carbon is the
Fullerenes which are nanoparticle originated from process used to create the activated carbon from the
the smoke and soot of the campfire. These smokes fresh material. Several types of activated carbon
evolve out with some other combustion byproducts. contactors are used for advanced waste water
These can be termed as crude nanoparticle. These treatment. The types of contactors are pressure or
crude nanoparticles are used in art. Fullerenes and gravity types and may be downflow or upflow fixed
carbon nanotubes have their own applications in a bed units having two or three column in series
verity of fields. These are used in cosmetics, skin (Metcalf, 2003).
rejuvenation formulas. These can also be used in
Nanoiron Composites
antibacterial functions. But this application of
antibacterial aspects is under research and many Nanoparticles of iron (FE) have a greater scope of
more findings are being coming out. Investigations application in the modern world. These are widely
are being conducted worldwide for its application in used in the reduction technologies for groundwater

remediation and wastewater treatment. These iron securing one’s money. Big players on the market
nanoparticle treatment in integration with other prefer it in the form of bullion, whereas small
conventional methods of treatment will ensure an investors settle themselves with purchasing fine
ecofriendly and energy saving approach of pieces of gold jewelry. In modern times though, gold
treatment because of naturally occurring iron oxides has ceased to be merely a safe investment
and their non-toxic and non-hazardous properties. opportunity or exchange currency. As a result of
All described properties of FeO nanoparticles can be extensive research and continuous development, it
even used for decomposition of pollutants contained has been discovered that gold can be used
in the waste water, mainly for treatment of successfully for scientific purposes as well.Gold
industrial sewage. The usage of nanoiron paves the Nanoparticles have been utilized for centuries due
better way of approach to treat waste water. It can to the vibrant colors produced by their interaction
represent a significant qualitative step in the with visible light. Recently, these unique optical-
classical technologies of water treatment including electronics properties have been researched and
drinking water. The extremely reactive iron utilized in high technology applications such as
nanoparticles thus offer a possibility to solve long- organic photovoltaics, sensory probes, therapeutic
lasting problems with a high content of uranium and agents, drug delivery in biological and medical
arsenic in a variety of localities. They can be also applications, electronic conductors and catalysis
used for a reduction of the content of heavy metals, (Huifeng, et al., 2013).
nitrates and phosphates in the drinking water. Just Gold nanoparticles are versatile materials that
these inorganic pollutants, which are hardly or used for a wide range of applications with well
expensively removed by standard technologies, are characterized electronic and physical properties. In
effectively removed by FeO nanoparticles. The use addition, their surface chemistry is easy to modify.
of zero-valent iron is an advanced area, hence more These features have made gold nanoparticles one of
and more researches are being carried out for proper the most widely used nanomaterials for academic
and efficient utilization of this element (Pradeep and research and an integral component in point-of-care
Anshup, 2009). medical devices and industrial products world-
A lot of advancements are being expected in the wide.
upcoming years for the application of iron This nanoparticle has been used to reduce the
nanoparticles in the waste water treatment. Besides pollutants in the form of heavy metals, fertilizers,
significant decontamination effect, their advantage detergents, and pesticides. Gold metal has
relies on the formation of non-toxic product of intriguing potential to deal with the water pollution
oxidation of nanoparticles (very often Fe3O4), which problem, as recent research on several fronts is
is either deposited in the given locality and almost advancing the concept of nanoscale gold as the basis
negligibly increases the natural occurrence of iron for cost-effective nanotechnology-based water
oxides or comes to filtration devices of cleaning treatment. Nano-gold has special properties, such as
units. In order to utilize these FeO nanoparticles in enhanced catalytic activity, visible surface plasmon
the treatment of waste water, nanoiron exhibits a resonance color changes, and chemical stability that
large surface area along with an extraordinary make it more useful than other materials.
reactivity in contact with pollutants. Thus, this
product simultaneously acts as a solid sorbent, CONCLUSION
which may bind colloidal and solid impurities
contained in the water. Other than the waste water Industrialization, commercialization, growth in
treatment, nanoiron can be used as catalyst in population are the important aspects that lead to
synthesis of hydrocarbons. It is also used in the increased contamination of water sources (Tyagi, et
production of carbon nanotubes, in petrochemistry al., 2013). So it is of utmost important to ensure clean
and in the production of magnetic fluids or as an and hygienic water to the public (Tiwari, et al., 2008).
admixture in powder metallurgy. For ensuring the clean and safe water, there are
more treatments available and practiced throughout
Gold Nanoparticles
the world. The conventional methods of treatment
Gold has always been the one precious material have its own challenges such as environmental
people like best. Due to its intrinsic value, buying hazards, economic feasibility, time spent, energy
the yellow metal has been seen as a good way of consumption etc. To overcome these limitations,

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