Nanomaterials to clean water: Lab to industry

Abstract: Access to clean water is one of the most important indicators of development. This water has to be affordable to make a meaningful impact to the society. We have been studying the chemistry of nanomaterials with the objective of developing affordable solutions for clean water. Creation of affordable materials for constant release of silver ions in water is one of the most promising ways to provide microbially safe drinking water for all. Combining the capacity of diverse nanocomposites to scavenge toxic species such as arsenic, lead, and other contaminants along with the above capability can result in affordable, all-inclusive drinking water purifiers that can function without electricity. The critical problem in achieving this is the synthesis of stable materials that can release or adsorb ions continuously in the presence of complex species usually present in drinking water that deposit and cause scaling on nanomaterial surfaces. We have shown that such constant release/adsorbing materials can be synthesized in a simple and effective fashion in water itself without the use of electrical power. The nanocomposite exhibits river sand-like properties, such as higher shear strength in loose and wet forms. These materials have been used to develop an affordable water purifier to deliver clean drinking water at Rs. 130/y per family. The ability to prepare nanostructured compositions at near ambient temperature has wide relevance for adsorption-based water purification. We have implemented such solutions already in arsenic affected areas of India. In the next 12 months, we are expected to provide arsenic free water to 1000,000 people. Experiences from such efforts will be discussed. Along with such removal methods, sensing at ultra-trace levels for contaminants in drinking water is also important. Recent efforts in this direction will be outlined.

About the Speaker: Prof. Thalappil Pradeep is an Institute Professor and Professor of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India. He earned his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science in 1991 and had post doctoral training at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley and Purdue University, West Lafayette. He held visiting positions at many leading universities and institutes in Asia and Europe. Prof. Pradeep’s research interests are in molecular and nanoscale materials and he develops instrumentation for such studies. He has authored over 350 scientific papers in journals and is an inventor of over 65 patents or patent applications. He is involved in the development of affordable technologies for drinking water purification and some of his technologies have been commercialized. His pesticide removal technology has been incorporated in about one million filters and the technology is estimated to have reached about 7.5 million people. Along with his associates, he has incubated two companies and one of them has a production unit. His arsenic removal technology has reached about 400,000 people already and is expected to reach 600,000 people by the year-end. He is a recipient of several awards including the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize (highest recognition in India for scientists below 45 years of age), BM Birla Science Prize (one of the highest recognitions in India for scientists below 40 years of age), National Award for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, India Nanotech Innovation Award and JC Bose National Fellowship. He is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Life Sciences, Ahmedabad University, Ahmedabad, PSG Institutes of Advanced Study, Coimbatore and is also a member of the Graduate Faculty of Purdue University, USA. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences (India) and Royal Society of Chemistry. He is the author of the introductory textbook, Nano: The Essentials (McGraw-Hill) and is one of the authors of the monograph, Nanofluids (Wiley-Interscience) and an advanced textbook, A Textbook of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (McGraw-Hill). He is on the editorial boards of journals such as Nano Reviews, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Particle, Surface Innovations, Chemistry-An Asian Journal, Nanoscale and Scientific Reports and is an associate editor of the American Chemical Society Journal, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. His science has been featured by Scientific American, CNN, The Guardian (UK), MIT Technology Review, C&E News, New Scientist, and many others apart from the national media. His other interests include education, popularization of science and development of advanced teaching aids. He has authored a few popular science books in Malayalam and is the recipient of Kerala Sahitya Academi Award for knowledge literature for the year 2010. In 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Research Award of IIT Madras. For more information, please see,

Please note that due to a very tight departure schedule of our speaker we will start sharp at 5 PM.