Egg Whites Can Remove Microplastics From Ocean

New Research – Egg Whites Can Remove Microplastics From Ocean

Craig Arnold, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at Princeton and vice dean of innovation, utilized egg whites to develop an aerogel, a lightweight and porous material that may be used in a variety of applications such as water filtering, energy storage, and sound and thermal insulation.

Egg whites are a complex system of practically pure protein that, when freeze dried and heated to 900 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free atmosphere, forms a structure of interwoven strands of carbon fibers and sheets of graphene.

Arnold and his colleagues demonstrated in a research that the resultant material can remove salt and microplastics from seawater with 98% and 99% effectiveness, respectively. While regular store-bought egg whites were used in initial tests, other similar commercially available proteins produced the same results.

New research shows that egg whites can be transformed into a material capable of filtering water. Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Because other proteins also functioned, the material has the potential to be made in vast quantities at a low cost and without affecting the food supply. The researchers’ next step will be to refine the construction method so that it can be employed in larger-scale water filtration.

The structure of the aerogel is formed by graphene sheets stretched across carbon fiber networks. Image by Shaharyar Wani

Who knows where this research will lead? Ocean water desalination or the possibility of removing microplastics from saltwater We still don’t know how much it would cost to desalinate a cubic meter of saltwater using this procedure, but the study is intriguing enough that we thought you’d be interested.

Reference- Materials Today, Princeton Press Release, Futurism, Interesting Engineering, Clean Technica