Graphene oxide macrostructure for the removal of heavy metals from contaminated waters

  • uacoopera
  • From Portugal
  • Responsive
  • Patents for licensing

Summary of the technology

A group of researchers at the University of Aveiro developed a graphene based material capable of removing mercury from contaminated water.
The invention consists on the functionalization of three-dimensional structures of graphene in order to increase the affinity to mercury, the subsequent encapsulation in a permeable casing facilitate its removal from the aqueous medium. The main advantage of this system lies mainly in their high mercury removal efficiency, ease synthesis process, low cost and the possibility of its application in locations that do not have specific infrastructure.

Main advantages of its use

The present invention has the following advantages over existing technologies:

  • The synthetic carbon structures are easy to prepare and low cost
  • High efficiency in mercury removal from aqueous media
  • The materials have the ability to be reused
  • The encapsulation of the carbon structures in permeable casings allow easy recovery of materials after use in an aqueous medium and permits its implementation in areas that do not have specific infrastructures.


The present invention describes the synthesis and functionalization of graphene three-dimensional structures, with high surface area capable of adsorbing heavy metal ions in aqueous solutions, thus allowing its removal from the medium (Figure 1). These synthetic carbon structures are simple to prepare, low cost and shows high efficiency in mercury removal in aqueous media. A prototype was designed that consists on the encapsulation of carbon structures into permeable casings. This new architecture allows the easy recovery of the material after use in an aqueous medium, furthermore permits its application in locations that do not have specific infrastructures. The scope of these materials consists essentially in situations requiring removal/reduction of heavy metal content in the drinking water and aquatic ecosystems.


  • Application for water treatment (water treatment equipment’s for decontamination and purification).

Intellectual property status

Pending patent.

Current development status

The product is already developed as a laboratory prototype and showed direct scalability (TRL3). In addition to the studies carried out under optimal conditions with ultrapure water, some studies were also conducted in a simulated real environment, river and seawater.

The results obtained at the laboratory scale are very promising as the mercury removal efficiency of aqueous media (96% after 24h of exposure time).

Desired business relationship

The university is looking for an industrial partner for the development and implementation of this product in water decontamination market.

Related Keywords

  • Water Management
  • Industrial Water Treatment
  • Municipal Water Treatment
  • Sludge Treatment / Disposal
  • Wastewater Recycling
  • Water Resources Management
  • Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems
  • Water, sewerage, chemical and solid waste treatment plants
  • contaminated waters
  • wastewater
  • sewage

About uacoopera

The University of Aveiro is a young and innovative university, which fosters entrepreneurship and technology and knowledge transfer, with expertise in a wide range of knowledge areas namely IT, Life Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Health, Environmental Sciences), Nanotechnology and Materials Science, Mechanics, Physics, Mathematics, Building, Design and Management. uacoopera is the Technology Transfer Office of University of Aveiro. This office engages in value adding activities such as start-up and spin-off creation, support to university-industry cooperation (sponsored research and consultancy services), IP protection and prosecution, licensing, marketing, among others. It covers four main interrelated functional areas – Intellectual Property Management, Licensing, Entrepreneurship, and Industry Liaison.


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