Novel Water Purification Technology for Lead and Heavy Metals

Invention Summary:

Polychelatogens are a class of water-soluble polymers that exhibit excellent metal ion complexation capabilities. They comprise a broad set of polymeric materials that can be used to sequester  undesirable heavy metal contaminants in water. There is an urgent need for high-performance metal sequestration materials. Researchers at Rutgers University have created a novel polymer system from a commercially-available biorenewable feedstock that satisfies this need.

Several limitations in current metal-binding polymer technologies exist which include cumbersome production requirements, poor metal-binding capacities, and narrow physicochemical property profiles. The highlight of this invention is a water-soluble polyanion that possesses a high affinity for toxic lead ions in aqueous solution, attributes that arise from a coordination site architecture comprised of thioether and hydroxyl carboxylate chelating moieties that are integrated into the polymer backbone and residues respectively. This material has the  highest reported binding capacity for lead (ca. upwards of 2481.9 ± 158.4 milligrams of Pb2+ per gram of polymer), preventing the ions from passing through commercially-available and inexpensive cellulose membranes.

Market Applications:

  • Water remediation
  • Metal ion recovery from mine effluents
  • Metal ion separation


  • Derived from commercially-available bio-renewable feedstock
  • Can bind other metal ions such as cadmium and gold
  • Monomer can be copolymerized for specific physicochemical properties
  • Can be prepared as water soluble or insoluble material
  • Potentially more stable and safer

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.

Rutgers ID: 2016-104
Physical Sciences
Zolt Pukanecz
Agostino Pietrangelo
Anshuman Mangalum