Water contamination and its purification are a global problem. The current approach to purify water is reduction of impurities to acceptable levels. One of the ways to achieve this is by use of water-soluble polymers that extract organic and metallic contaminants, from water. This paper presents a blend of composite polymers that eliminates both the contaminants simultaneously by the principle of adsorption at lower critical solution temperature. These composite polymers have been synthesized by grafting poly(N,N-diethylacrylamide), poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) and poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) on-to the natural polymer chitosan or its derivatives, giving smart graft polymeric assemblies (GPAs). One of the graft polymers, GPA-2, exhibits excellent adsorption properties able to remove metal ions like cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead, iron and also organic impurities like chlorophenol and phthalic anhydride. Studies reveal that 6 mg/ml GPA-2 is able to effect a 100% removal of organic impurities – chlorophenol (50 ppm) and phthalic anhydride (70 ppm) – from water, while complete removal of the heavy metal ions (Cu+2, Co+2 and Cd+2) together at 30 ppm concentration has been achieved with 7.5 mg/ml GPA-2. The reduction in level of impurities along with recyclability and reproducibility in the elimination spectrum makes these assemblies promising materials in water treatment.
- gel permeation chromatography (GPC)
- graft polymers
- lower critical solution temperature (LCST)
- thermoresponsive assemblies
- water treatment
- First received 12 August 2016.
- Accepted in revised form 7 December 2016.
- © IWA Publishing 2017