Polymeric cryogel for the removal of toxic contaminants

This invention concerns the synthesis of a novel adsorbent material having outstanding performance in terms of As removal. This material could be employed in developing new filtration systems for water purification from Arsenic pollutant.

Title of the patent Criogel polimerico macroporoso a base di N-Alchil-D-Glucammina per trattenere e/o rimuovere contaminanti tossici
Thematic area Chemistry and biotechnology
Ownership Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna and CNR – National Research Council of Italy
Inventors Daniele Caretti, Stefano Scurti, Francesca Cunsolo, Sabrina Carola Carroccio, Tommaso Mecca, Martina Ussia, Vittorio Privitera
Protection International
Licensing status Available for licensing agreements
Keywords Polymeric cryogel, Microporous polyemeric materials, Water treatment, Selective removal of Arsenic
Filed on Jul 19, 2019

Arsenic (As) ranks first in the top twenty hazardous heavy metals. Contamination of drinking water by As has affected the health of more than one 150 million people all over the world and, also in Italy, the As issue is of relevant importance especially in Lazio region where the As pollution causes serious problems to the drinking water.

Different strategies have been adopted to remove As from the water sources including oxidation/precipitation, coagulation and ion exchange. Although these chemical methods are simple, they present disadvantages associated with the enormous quantity of toxic sludge, not easily disposable, that is generated during treatments. Thus, there is  a real need to find new methods to purify water from As, preferably at reasonable costs, energy saving and low environmental impact. Between the described treatments, the adsorption technique, which exploits the property of some solids to remove pollutants from gases or liquids, deserves a separate description. This process is widely used because it has significant advantages such as operational simplicity, the absence of harmful by-products and low operating and maintenance costs, and has proved to be the most economical and efficient technique for removing even small traces of arsenic from water. The currently most used adsorbents are alumina, activated carbon, iron oxides, zeolites and polymer based materials. The use of the latter is advantageous both in terms of costs and management and maintenance. 

The patent regards a macropourous poymeric material containing N-methyl-D-glucamine moieties previously proposed as Arsenic absorber. The innovation of the invention is related to the polymerization process carried out lower temperatures with respect conventional methods. This procedure involves the solvent crystal formation acting as porogens during the polymerization process. The further heating of the mixture promote the solvent melting and the formation of a sponge-like structure characterized by a high porosity, mechanical stability as well as Aarsenic absorbtion properties. 


  • new filtering systems for the purification of drinking water;
  • treatment of industrial wastewater.



  • environmentally sustainable polymerization;
  • greater efficiency;
  • greater sequestering speed.

Paper accepted for publication:

Chemical Engineering Journal, vol. 399 (1 nov 2020)