EAGER-Development of Antiviral Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) for Generating Virus-free Medical Grade Water and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

Project: Research project

Project Details


At this point there is an urgent need to address many issues related to the Corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak including stopping the spread of the virus, and helping the overwhelmed healthcare industry cope with different problems. The goal of this project is to generate antiviral functionalized carbon nanotubes which will have several applications related to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the functionalized nanotubes can be used as self-cleaning sorbents in personal protection equipment (PPE) such as medical masks. Many commercial paints/coatings formulations contain carbon nanotubes, and the anti-viral nanotubes will be effective materials for preventing the spread of COVID-19 via surface contacts. An immediate application is carbon nanotube-enhanced membrane distillation for inexpensive bacteria/endotoxin/virus-free medical-grade water generation. This water is used for cleaning medical equipment and as injectable water in patient treatment. Most importantly the membrane distillation with antiviral nanotubes will be developed into a point-of-care technology where a domestic water heater or a microwave oven can be used to generate medical grade water in field hospitals.

The Objective of this project is to develop functionalized carbon nanotubes with high anti-viral activity for stopping the spread of Covid-19 and helping the overwhelmed healthcare industry. The work will be an extension of work already underway with bacteria and endotoxins. The two major proposed tasks are the development of specific carbon nanotube functional forms with antiviral activity, and the development of carbon nanotube enhanced microwave induced membrane distillation for generating bacteria/endotoxins/virus free medical grade water. In the first task, functionalized carbon nanotubes will be synthesized by the incorporation of different antiviral agents. In the second task these nanotubes will be used to synthesize biocidal membranes for membrane distillation. In the proposed process, as the hot contaminated water will pass over the antiviral nanotube membrane, it will be partially transformed to water vapor that will pass through as purified water while the hydrophobic membrane will prevent the aqueous phase from permeating through. In this project we also propose to use microwaves to heat the water because this has additional biocidal effects. The novel membranes developed by immobilizing the antiviral carbon nanotubes will not only serve as molecular transporters for pure water generation, but also have biocidal properties that will generate highly pure medical grade water. The developed approach will open the door to specific carbon nanotube functionalization to deal with different bacteria and virus. These functionalized nanotubes can be used in adsorbents and membranes to provide effective virus protection in air purifiers, in personal protection equipment (PPE) such as gas masks and for water treatment. Since many commercial paints/coatings formulations contain carbon nanotubes, the anti-viral nanotubes in surface coating will serve to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (or other viruses) that transmit via surface contacts. The educational goal of the project is the expansion of nanotechnology into disease prevention and medical infrastructure, which has not been emphasized in the past but has significant potential benefits.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date6/1/205/31/23


  • National Science Foundation: $138,573.00


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