While graphene-based materials have potential as adsorbent materials, their performance can be hindered due to aggregation and a lack of control over their porosities and dimensions. The researchers in a recent study, from the University of Exeter, Kyushu University and the University of Oxford, have addressed this issue by developing a unique graphene material combined with a high porosity composite foam to combat aggregation.

Pharmaceuticals are among the most prominent emerging contaminants (ECs) in water systems. They may cause severe environmental consequences along with potential health problems. To successfully eradicate ECs from processed wastewater streams, effluent and drinking water purification facilities must adopt adequate tertiary treatment methods. Adsorption is regarded as a technology with great potential in water treatment as it is dependable and less expensive compared to reverse osmosis, oxidizing, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, ion exchange, etc.

Graphene and graphene oxide (GO) have a large adsorbing propensity for natural contaminants due to their large innate specific area (relative to numerous different carbonaceous substances), wettability, monolayered architecture, and a surface adorned with oxygen-containing functional groups (OCFGs).

Boron nitride (BN) has a number of exceptional qualities, including superior thermal and chemical stability and excellent wear resistance; as a result, it is employed in high-temperature environments and in other industries.

In this study, reduced porous GO nanofilms were effectively anchored on ribbon-shaped boron nitride foam for treating gemfibrozil (GEM)-polluted water in batch testing and column investigations.

The graphene-based foam outperformed its graphene-based competitors like GO, PG, and nanographene platelets (NGP) in terms of adsorptive kinetics towards gemfibrozil, with 90 percent extraction efficiency in only five minutes.

Concerning longevity, the graphene-based nanomaterials supported with BN foam showed consistent gemfibrozil drug extraction effectiveness when recycled for numerous rounds without significant sorption losses. Furthermore, the foam material demonstrated outstanding features, including lightness with a porosity of more than 98 percent as well as excellent strength, with the ability to withstand 1300–1400 times its own weight.

The researchers feel that the reinforced composite foam based on graphene for filtering purposes would be a significant step forward the water and effluent filtering technologies. These results imply that high porosity foam-reinforced graphene nanomaterial filters with shorter interaction durations and prolonged breakthrough periods for treating water and effluent might be easily manufactured.