_TECHNOLOGY Chemical Engineering

_Efficient Mercury Removal

A material developed at Drexel can remove even low levels of mercury from contaminated bodies of water.

_Masoud Soroush

Soroush is a professor of chemical and biological engineering in the College of Engineering.

Not only is mercury incredibly toxic, but the elusive mineral — appropriately nicknamed quicksilver — has unique abilities to quickly alter its chemical form, making it difficult to remove from waterways where it collects and persists, threatening marine life and human health.

Mercury pollution has become so pervasive that health authorities recommend avoiding eating certain species of fish altogether.

A Drexel-led team has discovered a simple and effective new technique for removing mercury using a surface-modified MXene. MXenes are a family of two-dimensional nanomaterials with exceptional properties.

Mxene Adsorption

This adsorption time study shows the removal percentage of mercury ions from a 200 parts per million (ppm) and 50 ppm solution over time.

College of Engineering Professor Masoud Soroush and his colleagues at Drexel and Temple University modified the surface of titanium carbide MXene flakes — which bear a negative chemical charge — to produce an adsorbent that faster attracts and retains positively charged mercury ions.

By synthesizing carboxylated titanium carbide MXene, Soroush and his team were able to remove 95% of mercury ions from a water sample contaminated at a concentration of 50 parts per million within just one minute — faster and more effectively than adsorbents in current use.

Their method, described in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, showed that the material is sufficiently effective and efficient to be used in large-scale wastewater treatment.