AND POLYMERIC MATERIALS
Russian Journal of Applied Chemistry, 2012, Vol. 85, No. 3, pp. 448−455.
Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2012.
Original Russian Text © E.V. Datskevich, R.V. Prikhod’ko, V.V. Goncharuk, 2012, published in Zhurnal Prikladnoi Khimii, 2012, Vol. 85, No. 3, pp. 477−484.
A Polysaccharide Composite for Water Treatment
to Remove Nitrates: Synthesis,
Properties, and Utilization
E. V. Datskevich, R. V. Prikhod’ko, and V. V. Goncharuk
Dumanskii Institute of Colloid and Water Chemistry, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine
Received July 7, 2011
Abstract—A sorbent for water treatment to remove nitrates was prepared from readily available vegetable boi-
polymers: cellulose and starch. The adsorption characteristics of the polysaccharide composite were determined.
Biodegradation of the spent composite in the course of its utilization was studied.
Water contamination with nitrates is a serious envi-
ronmental problem. The major source of nitrates in water
is penetration into groundwater of municipal wastewater
and drainage from ﬁ elds on which nitrate fertilizers are
used. Increased content of nitrates in surface water bod-
ies leads to their overgrowth and death of fauna. Nitrates
are also hazardous for human health, because drinking
of water with increased nitrate concentration for a long
time leads to an increase in the methemoglobin concen-
tration, which, in turn, leads to series diseases, especially
for children .
The nitrate concentration in potable water is restricted
by regulations and in majority of countries, including
Ukraine, should not exceed 45 mg l
. The removal
of nitrates from water is, as a rule, based on sorption with
highly basic anion exchangers . The treatment technol-
ogy in this case is fairly simple, but the experience of us-
ing such materials revealed a number of signiﬁ cant draw-
backs  typical of synthetic polymers: toxicity caused
by the presence of residual monomer and resistance of the
spent sorbent to biodegradation. These drawbacks restrict
the use of synthetic materials for preparing high-quality
potable water. Recent studies [5–7] showed that the de-
velopment of novel materials based on polysaccharides
for water treatment is a promising way to overcome the
drawbacks of synthetic polymers; furthermore, it allows
rational use of renewable bioresources.
The goals of this study were to prepare an effective
sorbent for water treatment to remove nitrates from read-
ily available vegetable biopolymers, cellulose and starch,
to evaluate the sorption characteristics of the synthesized
polysaccharide composite, to examine the possibility of
its repeated use for water treatment to remove nitrates,
and to determine the conditions and extent of the biodeg-
radation of the spent material.
Cellulose and starch are the most abundant natural
carbohydrates. Both polysaccharides have vegetable
origin, but their role in the life of plants is different:
cellulose acts as structural material, whereas starch is
a reserve “power-saving” carbohydrate. The choice of
the strategy of the polysaccharide composite synthesis
was based speciﬁ cally on these main natural functions of
the carbohydrates: cellulose acted as a rigid framework-
support, and modiﬁ ed starch was the sorption-active part
of the material.
All the chemicals used in the study were of analytically
pure grade. As cross-linking agent we chose epichloro-
ClO (Merck), and the cationization reagent
was an aqueous solution (60%) of 3-chloro-2-hydroxy-