Poly(thioethers) for Metal Ion Sequestration

Invention Summary:

Water safety and quality are fundamental to human development and well-being. Development of enhanced and inexpensive water treatment technologies is becoming increasingly important if clean water is to be made readily available on a global scale.

Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a method to synthesize polythioether from thionated lactide for water treatment applications. The materials will serve as sorbants that extract metal ions from aqueous solutions. As proof of concept, inventors have synthesized and characterized a polychelatogen that exhibits a high affinity for toxic lead ions in aqueous solutions. This method has the potential to be adapted to other heavy metals, a mix of metal ion compositions, or to remove uranium from seawater.

Market Applications:

  • Purification of water contaminated with heavy metal pollutants
  • Preparation of membranes that sequester heavy metal contaminants
  • Use in the mining industry to extract precious metal ions from aqueous media
  • Can potentially be used to remove uranium from seawater


  • Lactide is a bio renewable resource
  • The metal binding capacity is higher than currently reported methods
  • The modular chemical design provides flexibility of integrating monomers into a membrane
  • No hazardous sludge generation and low operation costs

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

US Patent 10,669,378. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.

Patent Information:
Maricely Ramírez-Hernández
Licensing Manager
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Polymers & Composites