Protein-functionalized magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles: time efficient potential-water treatment

Research paper by Chuka Okoli, Magali Boutonnet, Sven Järås, Gunaratna Rajarao-Kuttuva

Indexed on: 22 Sep '12Published on: 22 Sep '12Published in: Journal of Nanoparticle Research


Recent advances in nanoscience suggest that the existing issues involving water quality could be resolved or greatly improved using nanomaterials, especially magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. Magnetic nanoparticles have been synthesized for the development and use, in association with natural coagulant protein for water treatment. The nanoparticles size, morphology, structure, and magnetic properties were characterized by transmission electron microscope, X-ray diffraction, and superconducting quantum interference device magnetometry. Purified Moringa oleifera protein was attached onto microemulsions-prepared magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (ME-MION) to form stable protein-functionalized magnetic nanoparticles (PMO+ME-MION). The turbidity removal efficiency in both synthetic and surface water samples were investigated and compared with the commonly used synthetic coagulant (alum) as well as PMO. More than 90 % turbidity could be removed from the surface waters within 12 min by magnetic separation of PMO+ME-MION; whereas gravimetrically, 70 % removal in high and low turbid waters can be achieved within 60 min. In contrast, alum requires 180 min to reduce the turbidity of low turbid water sample. These data support the advantage of separation with external magnetic field (magnetophoresis) over gravitational force. Time kinetics studies show a significant enhancement in ME-MION efficiency after binding with PMO implying the availability of large surface of the ME-MION. The coagulated particles (impurities) can be removed from PMO+ME-MION by washing with mild detergent or cleaning solution. To our knowledge, this is the first report on surface water turbidity removal using protein-functionalized magnetic nanoparticle.