February 21, 2024

In recent years, pomegranate-derived compounds have been shown to slow cellular aging, protect the brains of unborn babies and be used as additives for better automotive materials. They are now also being used to remove pharmaceuticals from wastewater.

Drugs often enter municipal wastewater streams as they pass through patient urine. Sewage treatment plants do help reduce their levels, but a certain amount of drugs still ends up being released with the treated water into local waterways.They may then harm aquatic life and Maybe even people.

Previously, several teams explored the use of nanoporous materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to filter drugs more efficiently from wastewater.Although these materials have shown promise, metal ions and synthetic organic matter The molecules used therein are often expensive and/or in short supply.

With these shortcomings in mind, scientists at Stockholm University in Sweden set out to find a naturally occurring The molecule called ellagic acid…yes, it’s in pomegranates and elsewhere.

“Ellagic acid is one of the main building blocks of naturally occurring polyphenols called tannins, which are commonly found in fruits, berries, nuts and bark,” says doctoral student Erik Svensson Grape. “By combining ellagic acid extracted from pomegranate husk, or bark, with zirconium ions, we developed a new type of highly porous MOF, which we named SU-102.”

Electron microscope image of a SU-102 crystal - the black area is a nanometer-wide drug-trapping pore
Electron microscope image of a SU-102 crystal – the black area is a nanometer-wide drug-trapping pore

Tom Willhammar / Stockholm University

When SU-102 was tested on water that had been treated at a local sewage treatment plant, it removed a significant amount of the missed residual drug contaminants.As an added bonus, in a called Photodegradationwhen exposed to ultraviolet light, the material breaks down these pollutants into harmless elements.

“This is a very exciting project because we have the opportunity to process the water samples directly from the treatment plant,” Grape said. “We hope that one day SU-102 will be used on a larger scale for other environmental applications.”

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Natural water.

source: Stockholm University