Researchers have developed an airgel made from egg white protein that can remove microplastics and salt from seawater.
The microplastics are a scourge on nature, but we could have the solution to the problem in our breakfast. Princeton researchers used egg whites to create an airgel lightweight and porous capable of removing microplastics and salt from seawater.
Researchers have developed an airgel made from egg white protein
When the blanks are freeze-dried and superheated (up to 900°C) in an oxygen-free environment, their pure protein system produces carbon fiber strands and graphene sheets that can remove 99% of microplastics from water and 98% of the salt. Even fried and beaten eggs can have the same result.
As you can imagine, a readily available organic material like this has its benefits. It is very inexpensive to manufacture and only requires gravity to operate. It does not consume energy, does not waste water. Activated charcoal is cheap, but not nearly as effective as egg white gel. And although it was eggs from the supermarket that led to this discovery, it is possible to use other proteins that would not interfere with food production.
Capable of removing microplastics and salt from seawater
Airgel, however, is not yet ready for large-scale use. Scientists still need to refine the manufacturing process before considering mass production. If this were to happen, however, the consequences would be impressive and quickly visible. It would become very easy to eliminate microplastics and thus purify water while minimizing the environmental impact. Although the removal of salt can create problems in our oceans, this gel could be very useful for desalination in regions where access to drinking water is difficult.
This airgel could have other applications. It could also be useful for energy storage and insulation. That is, do not be surprised if in a few years you find such proteins in the walls of your dwelling.