Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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alginateCompositefilamentheavy metalsmetal removalPollutionWastewaterwater sanitation


Metals can be present in aquatic systems as a result of activities, such as mining, foundry activities, the use of fuels, but also due to natural phenomena such as rock erosion or volcanic eruptions. The danger of these elements is linked to their toxicity and non-biodegradability. Therefore they cannot be disposed of “naturally” and accumulate in water, where they are consequently absorbed by vegetation or ingested by animals, thus entering the food chain. Although generally present in very low concentrations, these metals can be toxic to humans and often carcinogenic. In the environmental sector, the problem of removing heavy metals from water is therefore particularly felt.

Technical features

The present invention relates to a process for the preparation of a composite material in the form of a filament based on polycaprolactone and sodium alginate, for the high removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous environments. This filament has proved to be highly stable in water even without having subjected the alginate to any modification of its structure. Nets obtained from the weaving of these filaments can find application for cleaning lakes, rivers, sea areas polluted by heavy metals. In some embodiments of the invention, the filaments may further incorporate additives such as inorganic materials and nanomaterials, organic and metal nanoparticles or other materials, which may also improve the ability to absorb heavy metals or even radionuclides.

Possible Applications

  • Captures heavy metals from industrial waste and polluted waters;
  • Scaffolds for cell adhesion and tissue regeneration;
  • Creation of prosthetic devices in the medical field or in food packaging;
  • Used in robots equipped with 3D printers, such as plantoid robots or plant robots


  • The filament can be used embedded with antimicrobial materials;
  • Simple and scalable process.