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Drinking water contamination with heavy metals, particularly lead, is a persistent problem worldwide with grave public health consequences. Existing purification methods often cannot address this problem quickly and economically. Here we report a cheap, water stable metal-organic framework/polymer composite, Fe-BTC/PDA, that exhibits rapid, selective removal of large quantities of heavy metals, such as Pb2+ and Hg2+, from real world water samples. In this work, Fe-BTC is treated with dopamine, which undergoes a spontaneous polymerization to polydopamine (PDA) within its pores via the Fe3+ open metal sites. The PDA, pinned on the internal MOF surface, gains extrinsic porosity, resulting in a composite that binds up to 1634 mg of Hg2+ and 394 mg of Pb2+ per gram of composite and removes more than 99.8% of these ions from a 1 ppm solution, yielding drinkable levels in seconds. Further, the composite properties are well-maintained in river and seawater samples spiked with only trace amounts of lead, illustrating unprecedented selectivity. Remarkably, no significant uptake of competing metal ions is observed even when interferents, such as Na+, are present at concentrations up to 14»000 times that of Pb2+. The material is further shown to be resistant to fouling when tested in high concentrations of common organic interferents, like humic acid, and is fully regenerable over many cycles.
Sun, D. T., Peng, L., Reeder, W. S., Moosavi, S. M., Tiana, D., Britt, D. K., … Queen, W. L. (2018). Rapid, Selective Heavy Metal Removal from Water by a Metal-Organic Framework/Polydopamine Composite. ACS Central Science, 4(3), 349–356. https://doi.org/10.1021/acscentsci.7b00605