Nanomaterials and water purification: Opportunities and challenges
Advances in nanoscale science and engineering suggest that many of the current problems involving water quality could be resolved or greatly ameliorated using nanosorbents, nanocatalysts, bioactive nanoparticles, nanostructured catalytic membranes and nanoparticle enhanced filtration among other products and processes resulting from the development of nanotechnology. Innovations in the development of novel technologies to desalinate water are among the most exciting and promising. Additionally, nanotechnology-derived products that reduce the concentrations of toxic compounds to sub-ppb levels can assist in the attainment of water quality standards and health advisories. This article gives an overview of the use of nanomaterials in water purification. We highlight recent advances on the development of novel nanoscale materials and processes for treatment of surface water, groundwater and industrial wastewater contaminated by toxic metal ions, radionuclides, organic and inorganic solutes, bacteria and viruses. In addition, we discuss some challenges associated with the development of cost effective and environmentally acceptable functional nanomaterials for water purification.