WITH 3D printing already finding widespread application in medicine, transportation and communications, scientists at the American University in Washington have been successful in printing a chemically active structure which can mitigate pollution. A team of researchers under chemistry professor Matthew Hartings have been successful in creating a sponge infused with nanoparticles of titanium oxide (TiO2) or titania which can counteract pollution. Titania, which has widespread application in sunscreens and cosmetics, food colorings, and paints, in this case reacts with natual light to break down pollutants. The team tested the sponge by putting it in water, where the active TiO2 molecules neutralised pollutants.
While the product can have application in controlling air, water and agricultural pollution, there are still some limitations. The experiment shows that for now it works only if the nanoparticles are less than 10% of the total mass structure and it would take a higher concentration to be effective. Though an effective environmental solution is still some years away, the advent of chemically active structures can open up more avenues. Last month, Pennsylvania-based Aprecia Pharmaceuticals started shipping off the first FDA approved 3D printed drug used to treat epilepsy.