Wastewater cleaned thanks to a new adsorbent material made from fruit peels

March 23, 2017, University of Granada
Diagram of the process designed by the UGR researchers. Credit: University of Granada

A collaborative of researchers has developed a process to clean water containing heavy metals and organic pollutants using a new adsorbent material made from the peels of oranges and grapefruits.

The peels are a problem for the food industry, given that they take up a great volume and aren't very useful. An estimated 38.2 million tons of fruit peels are produced worldwide each year in the food .

The researchers developed a new process by which it is possible to modify the structure of said residues via instant controlled pressure drop treatment, giving them adsorbent properties such as a greater porosity and surface area.

Researcher Luis Alberto Romero Cano explains that by using a subsequent chemical treatment, they have managed to add functional groups to the material, thus making it selective in order to remove metals and present in water.

A subsequent study carried out by the authors of this paper has showed that it is possible to pack those new materials in fixed bed columns, in a way similar to standard wastewater treatments. This laboratory-scale study has obtained parameters to design a large-scale use of the materials.

"The results show a great potential for the use of said as adsorbents capable of competing with commercial activated carbon for the adsorption and recovery of metals present in wastewater, in a way that could make it possible to carry out sustainable processes in which products with a great commercial value could be obtained from residues," Romero Cano says.

Orange peels pose a problem for the food industry, given that they are residues that take up a great volume and which aren’t very useful nowadays. Credit: University of Granada

Explore further: Researchers developed world's first water treatment techniques using apple and tomato peels

More information: Luis A Romero-Cano et al. Grapefruit peels as biosorbent: characterization and use in batch and fixed bed column for Cu(II) uptake from wastewater, Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology (2017). DOI: 10.1002/jctb.5161

Luis A. Romero-Cano et al. Biosorbents prepared from orange peels using Instant Controlled Pressure Drop for Cu(II) and phenol removal, Industrial Crops and Products (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2016.02.027

Related Stories

Adsorbent that can selectively remove water contaminants

January 23, 2017

Professor Cafer T. Yavuz and his team at the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability (EEWS) of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed an adsorbent that can selectively ...

Banana peels get a second life as water purifier

March 9, 2011

To the surprisingly inventive uses for banana peels — which include polishing silverware, leather shoes, and the leaves of house plants — scientists have added purification of drinking water contaminated with potentially ...

Recommended for you

Programming DNA to deliver cancer drugs

March 19, 2018

DNA has an important job—it tells your cells which proteins to make. Now, a research team at the University of Delaware has developed technology to program strands of DNA into switches that turn proteins on and off.

Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues

March 19, 2018

Biomedical engineers from Duke University have demonstrated a new approach to making self-assembled biomaterials that relies on protein modifications and temperature. The hybrid approach allows researchers to control self-assembly ...

Identifying 'designer' drugs taken by overdose patients

March 19, 2018

Drug overdoses are taking a huge toll on public health, with potent synthetic drugs posing a particular threat. Medical professionals are scrambling to meet the growing demand for emergency room treatment, but they're hampered ...

The Swiss army knife of smoke screens

March 18, 2018

Setting off smoke bombs is more than good fun on the Fourth of July. The military uses smoke grenades in dangerous situations to provide cover for people and tanks on the move. But the smoke arms race is on. Increasingly, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.