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Graphene excels at removing contaminants from water, but it's not yet a commercially viable use of the wonder material.

That could be changing.

In a recent study, University at Buffalo engineers report a new process of 3D printing aerogels that they say overcomes two key hurdles—scalability and creating a version of the material that's stable enough for repeated use—for treatment.

"The goal is to safely remove contaminants from water without releasing any problematic chemical residue," says study co-author Nirupam Aich, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental engineering at the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "The aerogels we've created hold their structure when put in water treatment systems, and they can be applied in diverse applications."

The study—"3D printed graphene-biopolymer aerogels for water contaminant removal: a proof of concept"—was published in the Emerging Investigator Series of the journal Environmental Science: Nano. Arvid Masud, Ph.D., a former student in Aich's lab, is the lead author; Chi Zhou, Ph.D., associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at UB, is a co-author.

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