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Harnessing Magnetic Nanoparticles for Sustainable Environmental Clean Up

The latest study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production focuses on the effective utilization of magnetic nanoparticles for the primary purpose of water treatment to remove toxic wastes such as organic substances, hazardous metal ions, radioisotopes, and other hazardous substances.​​​​​​​

Harnessing Magnetic Nanoparticles for Sustainable Environmental Clean Up​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​Study: Magnetic nanomaterials: Greener and sustainable alternatives for the adsorption of hazardous environmental contaminants. Image Credit: Andreas Prott/

Why is the Development of Effective Treatment Solutions Necessary?

The availability of safe freshwater is essential for a sustainable ecosystem and all the species residing in it. Industrial and domestic anthropogenic activities are the primary causes of the discharge of pollutants such as microorganisms, toxic metals, and organic pigments.

All such factors jeopardize the likelihood of availability of pure water and may cause long-term permanent damage as well as the genetic alteration in living species, leading to mortality via long-term overdose of toxins. As a result, the sustainable deployment of efficient, dependable, and relatively inexpensive wastewater treatment technologies is critical.

What are Magnetic Nanoparticles?

Magnetic nanoparticles constitute several metals, including Fe (Iron) and Cobalt (Co) which impart advantageous magnetic properties that can be altered by varying an external magnetic field.

These substances are nontoxic, and their extensive size distribution (comprising of a few nanometers to a few micrometers) allows them to be specifically used in a variety of biochemical functions.

Advantages of Magnetic Nanoparticles

MNPs have been frequently used for pollutants removal due to their numerous benefits, including substantial upscale manufacturing, adjustable characteristics, simple crosslinking, eco-friendliness, reusability, and chemical stability.

Owing to their diverse concentrations and structures, they can absorb pollutants from water bodies. They have been specially created for a multitude of ecological applications founded mainly on the separation process and adsorptive properties.

Additionally, their exterior qualities can be altered to increase the interaction with the contaminants that need to be isolated. MNPs are very inexpensive and have good recycling properties following dye adsorption. These are the primary causative factors for the inclusion of magnetic absorbent compounds in several experiments to be viable options for removing a wide range of water pollutants.

Utilization In Removal of Heavy Metal Ions

Harmful metallic substances enter water systems primarily via mining, textiles, insecticides, pigments, and chemical waste metallurgical processes, leading to metallic carcinogens that are hazardous to all animals. Such ions can accumulate in biological systems and their organs, such as the nervous system, liver, and renal organs. After prolonged exposure, they can inflict long-term injury to the body.

Since such ions are non-biodegradable, conventional techniques such as sedimentation processing, centrifugation, membrane filtration, and cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) have been applied for their removal. These newly produced MNPs are distinguished by the presence of carboxylic and hydroxyl functionalities, which exhibit outstanding magnetization and aqueous miscibility, making them perfect for the abatement of Arsenic and Vanadium ions.

Additionally, a magnetized chitin bio-absorbent with graphene nanoparticles and chitosan has been developed for recovering Lead ions from aquatic wastes.

Are MNPs Effective for Adsorption of Organic Waste?

Organic chemical contamination of ecological resources via a range of commercial origins due to rising industrialization is a great challenge worldwide. Numerous organic substances (preservatives, polyphenols, herbicides, and so forth) have been discovered in quantities exceeding the acceptable amount in drinking water, inducing mutagenicity and neurotoxicity in humans.

MNPs have sparked great enthusiasm in water treatment as sorbent materials owing primarily due to their rapid segregation and complexation with an applied magnetic field. Non-coated and methyl acrylic acid (MAA)-coated MNPs were used to remove phenolic substances from water solution, with phenol extraction efficacy of 550 mg g-1 for uncovered MNPs and 950 mg g-1 for coated MNPs.

Furthermore, integrating magnetized and carbon-based substances has added the advantages of rapid removal with elevated recyclability efficacy.

Utilization in Dye Absorption and Radioactive Substances

Many novel platforms, such as graphite, silicon, quartz, and CNTs, are made from metal oxides and utilized to extract dyes, notably bromothymol blue. Because of the increased use of nuclear energy, radioisotopes and toxic nuclear materials are discharged into the drinking water.

A magnetized chitosan nanocomposite has been created to eliminate extra radioactive particles from contaminated water. The findings indicated that the produced magnetic nanoparticles effectively absorbed radioactive elements such as Thorium.

Future Perspective

Considerable work has been done in the past few years, notably with the shift from pure MNPs that employ the physical adsorption method to polymerized MNPs that have exhibited significant improvements in sorption.

Quantitative quantum modeling should be used to study the morphology, properties, and physical adsorption of MNPs. This would result in an enhanced comprehension of such nanoparticles leading to improved separation properties and increased commercialization.


Rasheed T. (2022) Magnetic nanomaterials: Greener and sustainable alternatives for the adsorption of hazardous environmental contaminants, Journal of Cleaner Production. Available at:

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Shaheer Rehan

Written by

Shaheer Rehan

Shaheer is a graduate of Aerospace Engineering from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad. He has carried out research on a wide range of subjects including Aerospace Instruments and Sensors, Computational Dynamics, Aerospace Structures and Materials, Optimization Techniques, Robotics, and Clean Energy. He has been working as a freelance consultant in Aerospace Engineering for the past year. Technical Writing has always been a strong suit of Shaheer's. He has excelled at whatever he has attempted, from winning accolades on the international stage in match competitions to winning local writing competitions. Shaheer loves cars. From following Formula 1 and reading up on automotive journalism to racing in go-karts himself, his life revolves around cars. He is passionate about his sports and makes sure to always spare time for them. Squash, football, cricket, tennis, and racing are the hobbies he loves to spend his time in.


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