Using Pomegranate Extract to Develop MOFs to Purify Water

Category Health

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Researchers from Stockholm University have developed a novel type of Metal-Organic-Framework (MOF) called SU-102, using pomegranate extract and zirconium ions. This revolutionary material was tested at a local wastewater treatment facility resulting in excellent removal of pharmaceutical pollutants from already-purified water. The photodegradation process is also used to further break down pollutants.

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Stockholm University researchers have teamed up to develop porous crystals from pomegranate extract to help purify water from pharmaceutical pollutants. The porous crystals will degrade pharmaceutical molecules found in the local municipal wastewater leading to a cleaner and better environment.

Although pharmaceutical products and compounds help improve our overall health, there’s also a chance that they could cause problems for wildlife, especially the creatures in the waters.

Ellagic acid is also found in strawberries, raspberries, and walnuts.

Porous materials that behave like sponges are popular in removing pollutants from water. Metal-organic frameworks or popularly called MOFs, are a type of nanoporous material. This material is made up of organic molecules and metal ions.

Interestingly, as opposed to the popular MOFs that are developed using synthetic organic molecules, researchers from the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry at Stockholm University have developed new porous MOFs by using ellagic acid, which is a naturally occurring molecule found in plants.

The wastewater treatment plant where the researchers used for testing the performance of SU-102 was located in Sweden.

Erik Svensson Grape, Ph.D. student at the University’s Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, noted that Ellagic acid is one of the main building units of naturally occurring polyphenols known as tannins. They are common in tree bark, nuts, berries, and fruits.

"By combining ellagic acid, which was extracted from either pomegranate peel or tree bark, with zirconium ions, we developed a new highly porous MOF which we named SU-102," he said.

Photodegradation is a process wherein UV light is used to break down organic compounds.

--- Test showed excellent results --- .

To test the performance of the newly developed SU-102, an already purified water at a local wastewater treatment facility was further treated with the MOF. Upon analysis of the result, the SU-102 further removed a lot of the pharmaceutical pollutants that the facility did not fully remove.

Aside from capturing the pollutants in the water, the researchers used the newly developed SU-102 to break down pollutants by using light in a process called photodegradation.

Most MOFs are made up of organic molecules and metal ions.

Erik Svensson noted that the project has been exciting as they got the opportunity to use water samples directly from the treatment facility. "We hope one day that SU-102 will be used on a bigger scale and also for other environmental applications," he said.

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