Self-assembling fluorescent hydrogel for highly efficient water purification and photothermal conversion

Meng Li, Mengqing Yang, Bowen Liu, Hongmin Guo, Haotian Wang, Xiaoning Li, Lidong Wang, Tony D. James

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40 Citations (SciVal)
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Employing fluorescent hydrogels for hazardous Hg(II) detection and removal is an efficient method for water purification. However, it remains challenging to establish a fluorescent system with low detection limit and high adsorption capacity that can readily be upcycled into a valuable material resource. Herein, we report on a fluorescent hydrogel with 0D sulfydryl-based carbon dots that are self-assembled with a 3D hydrogel network. The cellulose-based hydrogel exhibited good sensitivity for the detection of Hg(II) over a range from 0 to 40 µM with a limit detection of 3.0 × 10-6 M. The adsorption experiments confirmed that the cellulose-based hydrogel exhibits good Hg(II) extraction capacity of over 662.25 mg g−1 at room temperature, and can effectively reduce the Hg concentration to attain acceptable levels that comply with industrial water standards (0.05 mg L-1). Subsequently, we used a facile strategy to convert the exhausted waste adsorbent by in-situ sulfurization into a suitable material for solar steam generation. The as-prepared upcycled aerogel evaporators exhibited excellent evaporation rates of ∼ 1.30 kg m−2 h−1 under one sun irradiation. These results not only provide a strategy for heavy metal ion recognition and adsorption, but also provide a route to recycle hazardous waste for seawater desalination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134245
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Issue numberPart 3
Early online date20 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant #: 21607044). This work was also supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant #: 2021MS102). TDJ wishes to thank the Royal Society for a Wolfson Research Merit Award and the Open Research Fund of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Henan Normal University for support (2020ZD01).


  • Detection and adsorption
  • Fluorescent hydrogel
  • Solar steam generation
  • Sulfydryl-based carbon dots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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