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Nanotechnology Applications in Water

Treatment; Future Avenues and Challenges: A



Mohamed Abdel-Hady Gepreel
Egypt-Japan University of Science and Tec

Available from: Mohamed Abdel-Hady Gepreel

Retrieved on: 06 January 2016

Nanotechnology Applications in Water Treatment:

Future Avenues and Challenges: A review
Aref. M.E. Abd El Rahman1

, Mohamed A.H. Gepreel 2

Nanotechnology and Composite Materials Department, Institute of New Materials and Advanced Technologies,
City of Scientific Research and Technology Applications. Alexandria, Egypt.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST),
Alexandria, 21934, Egypt.

Surely, clean water is essential to human health and a critical feedstock in a variety of key industries
The world is facing formidable challenges in meeting rising demands of clean water as the available
supplies of freshwater are decreasing due to extended droughts, population growth, more stringent
health based regulations, the climate change and competing demands. Therefore, there is a great need
for effective and advanced wastewater treatment techniques. The wastewater treatment process is a bit
complicated because wastewater contains a variety of constituents such as particles, organic materials,
and emulsion depending on the resource. Nanotechnology revolution will play an essential role in
solving this water crisis by introducing an effective and cheep wastewater treatment techniques.
Nanomaterials are the drivers of the nanotechnology revolution and a key to the applications of
nanotechnology to solve this world crisis. This article is mainly concerned with providing a review of
the interests of scientists and researchers in the application of nanomaterials in the improvement of
water treatment, and application of nanotech in water treatments has several advantages than the
traditional water treatments and this review also identifying the grand challenges and directions for
future avenues in the field of Nanotechnology applications in water treatment.

1. Background
As the worlds population rises from 6.5 billion today to 9 billion by 2050, access to fresh water will
become even more important in the near future. Unfortunately, 97 percent of the worlds water is salt
water; of the remaining 3 percent, two- thirds are frozen. As well as being scarce, the remaining 1
percent of the worlds water supply is not evenly distributed. The shortage in clean water is clearly a
serious problem for developing countries. Over that, pollution and contamination can make water
unusable. Various agricultural and industrial processes introduce toxic substances, such as animal
wastes, pathogens and heavy metals, into water sources (e.g. rivers, lakes). Contamination like this
effectively lowers the supply of fresh water because natural water cycles are not fast enough to
efficiently clean the contaminated water. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 80
percent of illnesses in the developing world are water related. There are 3.3 million deaths each year
from diarrheal diseases caused by E. coli, salmonella and cholera bacterial infections, and parasites
and viral pathogens. In any way, the water problem is more serious than the oil problem: we are
starting to find alternative energy sources to replace oil, but there is no substitution for water because
all living things need water to survive. Most waterborne diseases and related deaths occur in
developing countries that lack the basic infrastructure for cleaning water. What is critically needed is
small to medium scale methods for purifying water in a cost-effective way. Instead of cleaning water in
a centralized location and distributing it, the more practical option may be to clean water right where it
is needed. Current efforts have already resulted in new water purification concepts that are smaller in
scale and cheaper to run than traditional centralized treatment plants [1,2]. Not only clean water is
essential to human health but also it is a critical feedstock in a variety of key industries; for example,
215 tones of water are needed to produce 1 tone of steel [3]. In spite of clean water is essential to
human health and also it is a critical feedstock in a variety of key industries; there are several sources
of water pollution; industrial sources, agricultural sources and finally the human waste.
Therefore, cost-effective and advanced wastewater treatment is required [4]. Nanotechnology (NT)
thus holds great promise to tackle the global water challenge. Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging
from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular
self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to investigating
whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale. Nanotechnology entails the application of
Corresponding author. Tel.: +201114421782:E-mail address drareff@gmail.com

fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor
physics, microfabrication, etc. [5]. There are parallel efforts under every research direction in
nanotechnology and huge amount of money is flowing under its research and development agendas,
and hence development may occur earlier than expected.
The main objectives of this review article are:
1) To provide a review of the interesting of scientists and researchers in the application of
nanotechnology in improvement water treatment.
2) To identify the grand challenges and directions for future avenues in the field of
Nanotechnology applications in water treatment.
2- Applications of Nanotechnology in Water Treatments
Nanomaterials are the drivers of the nanotechnology revolution and a key bottleneck to the applications
of nanotechnology to solve this world water crisis. Nanomaterials have a number of key
physicochemical properties that make them particularly attractive as separation media for water
purification. On a mass basis, they have much large surface areas than bulk particles. Nanomaterials
can also be functionalized with various chemical groups to increase their affinity toward a given
compound. They can also serve as high capacity/ selectivity and recyclable legends for toxic metal
ions, radionuclides, organic and inorganic solutes/ anions in aqueous solutions. Nanomaterials also
provide unprecedented opportunities to develop more efficient water-purification catalysts due to their
large surface areas and their size and shape-dependent optical, electronic and catalytic properties The
potential uses areas for nanotechnology in water treatments can be indicated into the different two
fields:- (a) Sensing and detection, and (b)Treatment and remediation,
2.1 Nanoparticles in water treatments
Sorbents are widely used as separation media in water purification to remove inorganic and organic
pollutants from contaminated water. Nanoparticles have two key properties that make them particularly
attractive as sorbents. First, on a mass basis, they have much larger surface areas than bulk particles.
Second, they can also be functionalized with various chemical groups to increase their affnity towards
target compounds. Several research groups and our team work are exploiting the unique proper ties of
nanoparticles to develop high capacity and selective sorbents for metal ions and anions.
2.1.1- Nanoparticles of nobel metals
The most important reason for the use of noble metals is the minimal reactivity at the bulk scale. The
recent efforts in the area of noble metal nanoparticle synthesis and the origin of their reactivity at the
nanoscale were summarized [6]. The application of noble metal nanoparticle based chemistry for
drinking water purification is summarized for three major types of contaminants: halogenated organics
including pesticides, heavy metals and microorganisms [6].
Gold nanoparticles; The novel chemistry of gold nanoparticles discovered when its nanoparticles
assisted low temperature oxidation of CO [7]. It was established that gold supported on various metal
oxides is a useful candidate for alkene hydrogenation. A few interesting revelations arose from this
research. Gold nanoparticle supported on alumina is an excellent system for the removal of Mercury
from water. Adsorption capacity was studied using a column experiment and was monitored using UVvis spectroscopy. It was confirmed by control experiments that pure alumina alone is unable to remove
Mercury from water [8]
Silver Nanoparticles; Silver has been equally popular for domestic use since the ancient times.
Silver vessels were utilized for the preservation of perishable items as well as for disinfection of water.
In the early 20th century, a porous metallic mesh of silver was prepared (Katadyn silver) and was
utilized as an anti-bacterial water filter. Attempts were also made to immobilize silver in zerovalent
form on activated carbon and subsequently use it for disinfection of water [9] .A new line of research
based on bio-synthesis of noble metal nanoparticles was established. This led to a rapid increase in
scientific interest to explore micro-organisms as a bio-factory. Many microorganisms including living
plants [10], plant extracts [11], bacteria, fungi and human cells [12] have been studied for bio-synthesis
of noble metal nanoparticles. Silver is the most widely studied oligodynamic material due to its wide
range in microbicidal effectiveness, low toxicity, and ease of incorporation on various substrates in a
host of dynamic disinfection applications. The main known negative health effect from silver is
argyria, which is an irreversible darkening of the skin and mucous membrane resulting from over
exposure to ionic silver (Ag(I), Ag+) [13]

2.1.2 Ceramic and metal oxides nanoparticles

Some of ceramic and metal oxides nanoparticles have a disinfection effects on some
microorganisms. The Effect of cerium dioxide, titanium dioxide, silver, and gold nanoparticles on the
activity of microbial communities intended in wastewater treatment were [14]. It has been reported that
the growth in production and use of nanoparticles (NPs) will result in increasing concentrations of
these NPs in industrial and urban wastewaters and, consequently, in wastewater-treatment facilities.
The effect of this increase on the performance of the wastewater-treatment process has not been studied
systematically and including all the microbial communities involved in wastewater treatment. The
present work investigates, by using biogas-production analysis, the inhibitory effect of four different
commonly used metal oxide (CeO(2) and TiO2)) and zero-valent metal (Ag and Au) nanoparticles on
the activity of the most important microbial communities present in a modern wastewater-treatment
plant. Specifically, the actions of ordinary heterotrophic organisms, ammonia oxidizing bacteria, and
thermophilic and mesophilic anaerobic bacteria were tested in the presence and absence of the
nanoparticles. In general, CeO(2) nanoparticles caused the greatest inhibition in biogas production
(nearly 100%) and a strong inhibitory action of other biomasses; Ag nanoparticles caused an
intermediate inhibition in biogas production (within 33-50%) and a slight inhibition in the action of
other biomasses, and Au and TiO(2) nanoparticles caused only slight or no inhibition for all tested
Also ceramic and metal oxides nanoparticles can be used in heavy metal removal from water. The
sorption of Pb(II) onto chitosan nanoparticles (40100 nm) prepared by ionic gelation of chitosan and
tripolyphosphate have been evaluated [15]. The phosphate functionalized chitosan nanoparticles have
a maximum Pb(II) sorption capacity of 398 mg/g.
It is reported that (NPs) suspensions of CeO2, Fe3O4 and TiO2 were synthesized and tested for lead
removal in water cleaning processes [16]. The results obtained are promising for the use of these NPs
in lead elimination via adsorption process. The adsorption capacity obtained for the NPs was: 189 mg
Pb/g NPs CeO2, 83 mg Pb/g NPs Fe3O4 and 159 mg Pb/g NPs TiO2.
Aluminum oxides Nanoparticles; Alumina (Al2O3) is a traditional adsorbent for heavy metals, and
nanoparticles of Al2O3 is anticipated to be more adsorptive active than Al2O3 in bulk state [17].
Nanosized Al2O3 can be prepared by solgel method and has been employed as solid phase extraction
material for separation/preconcentration of trace metal ions [18] . Chemical or physical modification
of Al2O3 nanoparticles with certain functional groups containing some donor atoms such as oxygen,
nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus have improved their sorption toward heavy metals [19]. Fixing
mercaptopropy-trimethoxysilane (MPTMS) on the surface of Al2O3 would improve its selectivity
toward Cu, Hg, Au and Pd ions rather than other ions [20].
Titanium oxides nanoparticles; It has been reported that bulk and nanoparticle TiO2 exhibit
different chemical behavior, catalytic reactivity, and surface acidity based on their different surface
planes [21,22]. The TiO2 nanoparticles were able, more efficient than bulk particles, to simultaneously
remove multiple metals (Zn, Cd, Pb, Ni, Cu) from a solution of pH = 8 and a tap water. Langmuir
isotherm was suitable to characterize metal adsorption onto TiO2 anatase. By comparing the
distribution coefficient (Kd), TiO2 nanoparticles performed better than other metal oxide nanoparticles
and a commercial activated carbon [21], nano-TiO2 (diameter = 1050 nm, BET surface area = 208
m2/g) showed adsorptive capacity to Zn and Cd as 15.3 and 7.9 mg/g, respectively, at pH = 9.0. The
presence of common cations and anions (1005000 mg/L) has no significant influence on the targeted
metal (Zn 2+ and Cd2+ ions of 1.0 mg/mL) adsorption under the given conditions.
TiO2 nanoparticles have emerged as promising photocatalysts for water purification. The removal of
total organic carbon from waters contaminated with organic wastes was greatly enhanced by the
addition of TiO2 nanoparticles in the presence of ultraviolet light [23]. It was successfully used to
degrade organic compounds (e.g. chlorinated alkanes and benzenes, dioxins, furans)
Zinc oxides nanoparticles; As an environmental friendly material, ZnO can be used in catalyst
industry [24], gas sensors, solar cells and so on. Recently, Nanostructured ZnO could efficiently
remove heavy metals [25]. The zinc oxide nanopowder showed higher removal rate of Cu2+ ions from
the solution if compared with TiO2 powder. The plate-like nanostructured ZnO with high specific
surface area has many unique advantages, such as simple and cheap to prepare, convenient to tailor
morphologically [26]. The nanoplates are porous with a pore diameter of 520 nm and a high specific
surface area (147 m2/g). These nanoplates have an adsorption capacity of >1600 mg/g for Cu (II) ions.
ZnO nanosheets prepared via a hydrothermal approach were used to adsorb Pb2+ and then

hydrothermally treated in aqueous solution containing sulfur source. Due to the surface hydroxy
groups, the resultant ZnO nanosheets exhibited a good capacity to Pb2+ as 6.7 mg/g.
Nanoscale Zero-Valent Metals; Among the most relevant zero-valent metal nanoparticles to
environmental systems, zero-valent iron nanoparticles have received great attention due to their
potential applications in the remediation of contaminated groundwater [27]. These iron nanoparticles
possess the capacity of transforming or sorbing a wide range of common environmental contaminants
including chlorinated organic solvents, and organic dyes [28].
Magnetic Nanoparticles; Magnetic nanoparticles offer advantages over non-magnetic nanoparticles
because they can easily be separated from water using a magnetic field. Separation using magnetic
gradients, the so-called high magnetic gradient separation (HGMS), is a process widely used in
medicine and ore processing [29]. This technique allows one to design processes where the particles
not only remove compounds from water but also can easily be removed again and then be recycled or
regenerated. This approach has been proposed with magnetite (Fe3O4), maghemite (g-Fe2O3) and
jacobsite (MnFe2O4) nanoparticles for removal of chromium (VI) from wastewater [30,31]. Watersoluble CNTs have been functionalized with magnetic iron nanoparticles for removal of aromatic
compounds from water and easy separation from water for re-use [32]. Magnetic nanoparticles can also
be designed to absorb and remove oil from water. This technology can be used to magnetize clay to
separate oil.
2.2- Nanomaterials (nanostructure) in water treatments
Recently, nanotechnology has introduced different types of nanomaterials to water industry that can
have promising outcomes.
2.2.1 Carbon nanotubes
CNTs in particular received special attention for its exceptional water treatment capabilities and proved
to work effective against both, chemical and biological contaminants. CNTs as an adsorbent media,
able to remove wide range of contaminant heavy metals such as Cr3+ [33] Pb2+ and Zn2+ [34],
metalloids such as arsenic compounds [35], organics such as polycyclic aromatic organic compounds
[36], atrazine , and a range of biological contaminants including bacteria [37] viruses [38], and
cyanobacterial toxins [39]. The success of CNTs as an adsorbent media in the removal of biological
contaminants, especially pathogens is mainly attributed to its unique physical, cytotoxic and surface
functionalizing properties. Adsorption of metal contaminants and organics on CNTs is widely studied
[34], but the sorptions of biological contaminants on CNTs need to be understood in greater detail.
Li et al. have investigated the sorption of Pb(II), Cu(II) and Cd(II) onto multi-walled carbon nanotubes
(MWCNTs) [40]. They reported maximum sorption capacities of 97.08 mg/g for Pb(II),24.49 mg/g for
Cu(II) and 10.86 mg/g for Cd(II) at room temperature, pH 5.0 and metal ion equilibrium concentration
of 10 mg/l.
2.2.2 Graphene nanosheets.
Graphene is the basic structural element of some carbon allotropes including graphite, charcoal, and
carbon nanotubes . Graphene prepared by a modified Hummers' method for dye removal [41]. The
maximum adsorption capacity obtained from Langmuir isotherm equation at 293K was 153.85mg/g,
indicating that graphene is a good adsorbent for the adsorption of methylene blue MB.
2.2.3 Dendrimers
Dendrimers represent a novel class of three-dimensional, highly branched and globular
macromolecules, which fall into a broader category deemed dendritic polymers. Dendrimers can be
considered to have three portions a core, an inner shell and an outer shell. Ideally a dendrimer can be
synthesized to have different functionality in each of these portions to control properties such as
solubility, thermal stability and attachment of compounds for particular applications.
Poly(amidoamine), or PAMAM, dendrimers have been developed for use in the remediation of waste
water and soil contaminated with a variety of transition metal ions such as copper (Cu(II)).
For the specific development of metal-remediating dendrimers, researchers have employed an
ethylenediamine (EDA) core. The high concentration of nitrogen ligands within the interior ranches
makes PAMAM dendrimers useful as chelating agents for metal ions [42]. Expanding on initial
research developing EDA core PAMAM dendrimers for copper remediation, Diallo et al. devised a
dendrimer-enhanced ultrafiltration (DEUF) method to recover copper from aqueous solutions. DEUF
is a variation of polymer-enhanced ultra filtration (PEUF), a remedial tool that has emerged in the past

10 years as a promising technology for metal ion removal from waste streams. PEUF and DEUF work
on the same principles, where the binding of metal ions to the polymers or dendrimers allows the
removal of contaminants though membrane filtration. Diallo et. al. proposed process consisting of a
clean water recovery unit and a dendrimer recovery unit. They are currently working on the
engineering development of this process with hopes of having pilot scale [43].
2.2.4 Nano Composite Materials
The term nanocomposite implies the combination of two (or more) distinct materials, such as a
ceramic and a polymer, rather than spontaneously phase-segregated structures.
For heavy metal removal, a novel sorbent with high surface area (189 m2/g) consisting of cerium
oxide supported on carbon nanotubes (CeO2-CNTs) have recently been developed by[35]. They
showed that the CeO2-CNT particles are effective sorbents for As(V). Interestingly, it was also found
that the addition (from 0 to 10 mg/l) of two divalent cations Ca(II) and Mg(II) resulted in a substantial
increase of the amount of sorbed As(V) (from 10 to 82 mg/g) [35]. A novel As(V) sorbent consisting of
akaganeite (b-FeO(OH) nanocrystals have been also synthesized and characterized [44]. In addition, it
was shown that nanocrystalline akaganeite is also an effective sorbent for Cr(VI) [45]. The successful
use of synthetic NaP1 zeolites to remove Cr(III), Ni(II), Zn(II), Cu(II) and Cd(II) from metal
electroplating wastewaters reported was also reported [46,47].
Graphene-based magnetic nanocomposite for the extraction of carbamate pesticides from
environmental water samples showed great adsorptive ability [48]. Also, Graphene-Polypyrrole
Nanocomposite was used as a highly efficient and low cost ion exchanger for removal of perchlorate
ions(ClO(4)(-)) from Wastewater [49]. These functionalized graphene sheets were employed as the
scaffold to synthesize a novel graphene-polypyrrole (Ppy) nanocomposite, which served as an excellent
electrically switched ion exchanger for perchlorate removal.
The synthesis and photocatalytic removal of Cr(VI) from water of hierarchical micro/nanostructured
Fe(2+)/TiO(2) tubes was also reported [50]. The hierarchical architecture of the catalyst serves as a
reactor for the photocatalytic reaction of Cr(VI) ions and an effective absorbent for the removal of
Cr(III) ions. The catalyst can be easily magnetically separated from the wastewater after photocatalytic
reaction. The removal of Cr(VI) from aqueous solution using polypyrrole/Fe(3)O(4) magnetic
nanocomposite was studied too by [51].
Nanocomposites materials has also disinfection effects as two types of magnetic binary
nanocomposites, AgFe(3)O(4) and -Fe(2)O(3)Ag, were synthesized and characterized and their
antibacterial activities were tested [52]. Both synthesized nanocomposites exhibited very significant
antibacterial and antifungal activities against ten tested bacterial strains (minimum inhibition
concentrations (MIC) from 15.6 mg/L to 125 mg/L) and four candida species (MIC from 1.9 mg/L to
31.3 mg/L). Moreover, acute nanocomposite cytotoxicity against mice embryonal fibroblasts was
observed at concentrations of higher than 430 mg/L (AgFe(3)O(4)) and 292 mg/L (-Fe(2)O(3)Ag).
With respect to the non-cytotoxic nature of the polyacrylate linker, both kinds of silver nanocomposites
are well applicable for a targeted magnetic delivery of silver nanoparticles in medicinal and
disinfection applications [52].
Also, Graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets impregnated with silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) were
fabricated by the in situ reduction of adsorbed Ag(+) by hydroquinone (HQ) in a citrate buffer solution
[53]. Antibacterial activity was tested using Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus as model
strains of Gram negative and Gram positive bacteria, respectively. The as-prepared composites exhibit
stronger antibacterial activity against both. The Ag NP/GO composites performed efficiently in
bringing down the count of E. coli from 10(6)cfu/mL to zero with 45mg/L GO in water. The micronscale GO nanosheets (lateral size) enable them to be easily deposited on porous ceramic membranes
during water filtration; making them a promising biocidal material for water disinfection.
For cadmium removal; we had prepared Nano-Poly (glycidyl methacrylate) cation exchange resin
with sulphonate functionality content ranged from 1.77 to 4.00 (mmole/g) and examined in removal of
cadmium ions from synthetic cadmium solution. Initial fast adsorption step was recognized at 15
minutes where 90% of cadmium ions were adsorbed while equilibrium was reached within two hours
[54]. The equilibrium adsorption capacities were ranged from 9.947 to 480 mg / g of polymer as initial
cadmium concentration increased from 100 to 5000 ppm. The adsorption experiments for Cd2+ were
conducted at various operating conditions. It was concluded that the sorption was considerably affected

by initial cadmium concentration, solution pH and resin dose. Nevertheless, there was slight
dependence of sorption on agitation speed, solution temperature and the sulphonation degree.
2.3.1 Nanofilters:
Nanofiltration, as one of the four membrane technologies, utilizes pressure to affect the separation of
contaminants from water streams. The other three are microfiltration, ultrafiltration and reverse
osmosis. All of these technologies utilize semi-permeable membrane that have the ability to hold back
(reject) dissolved and/or suspended solids from a water stream containing these contaminants.
Nanotechnology may make it possible to purify water on a much smaller scale, without the need for
centralized water treatment plants. Researchers have recently come up with a new way to sterilize
water using nanofiltration devices. These devices are made out of carbon nanotubes and silver
nanowires coated on cotton. They are nano because the size of the wires and tubes is roughly a
billion times smaller than a meter. The cotton backbone of the filter provides mechanical support to the
nanowires and nanotubes, while the carbon nanotubes dispersed throughout the cotton backbone make
the whole filter electrically conductive. Silver is known to be antibacterial. Silver nanowires dispersed
in the filter thus act as an anti-bacterial mesh. Electricity is also applied to these nanowires creating
strong electric fields at the tips of the wires that further assist in killing bacteria. This device kills ~98%
of the bacteria in water. It can run on a battery consuming only one fifth the energy required to operate
standard filtration systems. It can thus be an attractive candidate for disinfecting water in resourcelimited areas.
Recently, researchers have developed a small-scale, portable desalination device made possible by
advances in nanotechnology. Instead of using a physical membrane that blocks ions, the filter is more
like an electrical barrier that repels ions. Only neutral water molecules can pass this barrier to be
collected as fresh water. The electrical barrier is made from a nanoscale fluidic channel. The biggest
advantage of this system is that it requires minimal infrastructure for operation [55].
The use of nanofiltration to remove cations, natural organic matter, biological contaminants, organic
pollutants, nitrates and arsenic from groundwater and surface water were reviewed [56]. Nanofiltration
can also be used to remove minute quantities of U(VI) from seawater [57]. The use of nanofiltration to
desalinate water has been evaluated [58]. It was found that nanofiltration in combination with reverse
osmosis could effectively render brackish water potable.
The successful fabrication of carbon nanotube filters for water purification and desalination has
been reported [59]. These new filtration membranes consist of hollow cylinders with radially aligned
carbon nanotube walls. The filters were effective at removing bacteria (Escherichia coli and
Staphylococus aureus) and Poliovirussabin 1 from contaminated water [59]. It was reported too in
[60] the successful fabrication of alumina UF membranes using alumina (A-alumoxanes) nanoparticles
(725 nm)and showed selectivity toward a number of synthetic dyes (e.g., Direct Red 81, Direct Blue
71 and Direct Yellow 71). They showed that the selectivity and permeate flux through the UF
membranes can be increased by doping the alumina nanoparticles with Fe, Mn and La. Novel NF
membranes that exhibit high water flux, high retention of divalent cations [Ca(II) and Mg(II)] and
Cl)/SO2) have been fabricated [61]. A surface modified electrospun poly(vinyl alcohol) membranes for
extracting nanoparticles from water have been recently designed [62].
2.3.2 Super Sand Nano Filter
Scientists have created a new filter material, dubbed super sand, by coating regular sand with the
nanomaterial graphite oxide. The materials needed to make super sand, graphite and regular sand, are
inexpensive and readily available. Another crucial advantage is that super sand can be created around
room temperatures. These factors lead experts to believe that super sand could become a cost-efficient
and viable method of water filtration in the future.
2.4. Nanosensors
Another future avenues of nanotechnology are nanosensors. These are used to detect and transfer
nano particle information to the other devices. There basic purpose is to devleop medical nano products
, silicon computer chips and nano robots fabrications. Nanosensosrs also reduced the air pollutions and
also discovered the strong air pollutants. In future nanosensors would surely improve the present world
of technology.

A novel strategies for using gold nanoparticles capped with chitosan for sensing ions of heavy metals
in contaminated water are recently investigated [63]. The well-documented chelating properties of
chitosan and the sensitivity of the optical properties of gold nanoparticles to agglomeration have been
employed to detect low concentrations of heavy metals ions (Zn2C and Cu2C) in water.
2.5. Small scale water treatment systems
A nano sponge material that excel in snatching water droplets from the air compared with
polypropylene nets now is used to harvest fog in some parched regions this nano materials can increase
water capture by tenfold over that they modified the nanomaterial not only to collect but also purify
collected water from contaminants [64].
Also another one of the future avenues of nanotechnology in clean water issue is the personal water
treatment. To really have a global impact on the availability of clean drinking water, new technologies
will be needed to treat water at its point of use. That is, people should have at hand a device that
enables them to purify water at the tap, at the well, or in their residences. The idea is to dismantle the
current model of centralized water-treatment plants and to replace it with small, strategically placed
treatment systems that meet the water needs of population clusters. Such satellite treatment systems
would be particularly useful in developing countries, where big plants are still rare and there is a
tremendous need for cost-effective ways to bring clean drinking water to communities. Small-scale
water-treatment systems, it has been suggested, would also make less attractive targets for bioterrorists
than would big plants. Community-based water treatment would be most effective if it could be
customized to remove the specific contaminants found in a local water source. That would most likely
require nanotechnology. Nanosorbents, nanocatalysts, smart membranes, nanosensors and other kinds
of nanotechnology could serve as the basis for new, small scale water treatment systems. The goal of
personal water treatment might actually prove easier to reach than the goal of integrating
nanotechnology into existing centralized water treatment plants operated by public utilities.
3. The Challenges;
Nanotechnology as a risk to human health
Although the benefits of nanotechnology are widely publicized, discussion of the potential effects of
their wide spread use in consumer and industrial products is just beginning. Both pioneers of
nanotechnology and its opponents are finding it extremely hard to argue their case because of the
limited information available to support one side or the other. Given the rapid rate of development in
this area and the amount of publicity it is attracting, it is not surprising that concerns should have been
raised relating to the safety of nanomaterials in a variety of products. Some have drawn an analogy
between high-aspect-ratio nanoparticles and asbestos fibers [65,66]. Although some concerns may be
ill-founded, it remains true that the toxicology of many nanomaterials has not yet been fully evaluated.
To address this issue, some companies are participating in the European Nanosafe consortium, which is
starting to evaluate the possible risks presented by nanomaterials. Nanomaterials can enter the human
body through several ports; accidental or involuntary contact during production or use is most likely to
occur via the lungs, from which a rapid translocation is possible to other vital organs through the
bloodstream [67].
However, residual chemicals that remain during the treatment of wastewaters form a variety of known
and unknown by-products through reactions between the chemicals and some pollutants [4]. Chronic
exposure to these by-products or residual chemicals through the ingestion of drinking water, inhalation
and dermal contact during regular indoor activities (e.g., showering, bathing, cooking) may pose cancer
and non-cancer risks to human health. For example, residual aluminium salts in treated water may
cause Alzheimer's disease. As for carbon nanotubes (CNTs), despite their potential impacts on human
health and the environment having been receiving more and more attention in the recent past, existing
information on the toxicity of CNTs in drinking water is limited with many open questions.
Furthermore, though general topics on the human health impacts of traditional water treatment
chemicals have been studied, no comparative analysis has been done. Therefore, a qualitative
comparison of the human health effects of both residual CNTs and traditional water treatment
chemicals is needed.
Comparative study on eco-toxicity of nanoscale TiO2, SiO2, and ZnO water suspensions showed that
the potential eco- toxicity of those nanosized dioxides were harmful to varying degrees, with
antibacterial activity increasing with particle concentration [68]. subtilis was most susceptible to their
effects. Advertised nanoparticle size did not correspond to true particle size. Apparently, aggregation
produced similarly sized particles that had similar antibacterial activity at a given concentration. These

results highlight the need for caution during the use and disposal of such manufactured nanomaterials
to prevent unintended environmental impacts, as well as the importance of further research on the
mechanisms and factors that increase toxicity to enhance risk management.
The effects of the micro- and nano-sized zinc oxide on biochemical and hematological parameters were
studied. The nano-size zinc oxide exhibited toxicity at lower doses, thus alarming future
nanotoxicology research needs to be focused on importance of dose metrics rather following the
conventional methods while conducting in vivo experiments [69].
The ability of nanoparticles to penetrate the stratum corneum was the focus of several studies [70]. Yet,
there are controversial issues available for particle penetration due to different experimental setups.
The results imply that nanoparticles permeate the stratum corneum in a similar manner to drug
molecules, mainly through the intercellular pathways. A. Maynard et al. [71] have reported the 5 grand
challenges for nanotechnology risk research as; 1- Develop instruments to assess exposure, 2- Develop
and validate methods to evaluate the toxicity, 3- Develop models for predicting the potential impact,
4- Develop reverse systems to evaluate impact and 5-Develop tools to assess risk
To overcome some of these challenges, Surface modified electrospun poly(vinyl alcohol) membranes
for extracting nanoparticles from water [62]. The contamination of water from nanomaterials will be an
emerging problem in the future due to incorporation of nanomaterials in many commercial products
and improper disposal of waste materials. The best extraction efficiency of surface hydroxyl groups of
PVA NFs were chemically modified with functional groups, such as thiols and amines. The extraction
studies revealed that the amine and thiol modified PVA NFs showed 90% extraction efficiency for both
silver and gold nanoparticles.
Although the risks involved in nanotechnology applications, it is also need to be weighed up against the
potential benefits. In another statement "we must look at nanotechnology in both green and red or black
4. Conclusions
Nanotechnology revolution will play an essential role in solving the problem of rising demands of
clean water and decreasing of the available supplies of freshwater. Nanomaterials have a number of
key physicochemical properties that make them particularly attractive as separation media for water
Researchers had pointed to nanomaterials, that have a high surface area and can be chemically
tailored, show great potential as sorbents, materials that latch on to pollutants and pull them out of
solution. For instance, multi-walled carbon nanotubes have been shown to take up lead, cadmium and
copper more effectively than does activated carbon, a commonly used sorbent. Some nanoparticles also
act as potent catalysts and could be used to render pollutants harmless. Nanosize iron, for example, can
detoxify organic solvents, such as trichloroethylene.
Other bioactive nanoparticles, such as silver and magnesium oxide, can kill bacteria and might be
used in place of chlorine to disinfect water. Nano-engineered membranes and filtration devices could
be used to detect and remove viruses and other pollutants that are difficult to trap using current
Eventually, "smart membranes with specifically tailored nanopores might be designed to both
detect and remove such pollutants. With greater ability to filter out unwanted materials, industrial
wastewater and even the ocean could become available to boost the supply of clean water.
Ultimately, a single membrane might be made to perform multiple tasks for instance, detect,
separate out and detoxify a contaminant.
By 2020, researchers aim to develop smart membranes with antimicrobial surfaces and embedded
sensors that can automatically adjust membrane performance.
Additional research challenges also need to be met before nanomaterials could be successfully used
in water treatment. The nanomaterials would have to be fully evaluated for safety, including examining
their toxicity, their transport, and their fate in the environment.
Nanotechnology offers the promise of cleaning up pollution problems from the past. But its biggest
challenge could be in pollution prevention in helping us to do and make things in a clean and green
way. So, we can conclude that nanotechnology is a promising solution to the water world crises; but
this solution faces some challenges; the grant one is the risks associated with nanomaterials may not be
the same as the risks associated with the bulk versions of the same materials because the much greater
surface area to volume ratio of nanoparticles can make them more reactive than bulk materials and lead
to so far unrecognized and untested interactions with biological surfaces. Other challenges are the cost
of getting the nanotechnology and production cost of nanomaterials and the later challenge is how we
can transfer the nanotechnology from lab scale to fabrication scale.

Finally; Researchers are doing their best to lead human being to a better life, believing that we will
never reach perfection. Our knowledge, wherever it reaches, will remain very little compared to that of
our creator, and given to us by his will. Nanotechnology, like any other branch of knowledge, is a
double edged weapon. Every day we discover more about it, but we should be careful not to misuse it.
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