Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1429–1434 | Cite as

Glutathione-functionalized melamine sponge, a mimic of a natural antidote, as a quick responsive adsorbent for efficient removal of Hg(II) from aqueous solutions

  • Xinyou Mao
  • Lan Wang
  • Chuanyi Wang
  • Eric Lichtfouse
Original Paper


Minamata disease is caused by methylmercury, which is produced by microorganisms from inorganic mercury ions, Hg(II), in the aquatic environment. Adsorption is a feasible method to remove Hg(II) from waters, but there are some drawbacks when using conventional adsorbents, for example, tedious solid–liquid separation, slow response, and excessive residual levels of mercury. In this work, a novel spongy adsorbent has been developed for Hg(II) removal via surface functionalization of melamine formaldehyde sponge by glutathione. This material mimics a natural antidote that removes trace heavy metals in the human body. Results show that the functionalized sponge displays a 99.99% removal efficiency for low concentrations of Hg(II) of 10 mg/L. As a consequence, the residual Hg concentration is lower than 0.005 mg/L, which is slightly below the standard for total mercury in drinking water, of 0.006 mg/L, formulated by the World Health Organization, and much lower that the discharge regulation standard, of 0.01 mg/L, set by the ministry of environmental protection of China. Adsorption kinetic studies indicate that the functionalized sponge has a fast response. Indeed, the adsorption equilibrium can be reached within 10 min, and about 80% of total adsorption capacities are reached in 1 min. Moreover, the maximum adsorption capacity of the glutathione-functionalized sponge is as high as 240.02 mg/g, as shown by adsorption isotherm. Overall our findings disclose the great potential of the developed sponge adsorbent for rapid and efficient removal of Hg(II) from water.


Dopamine Glutathione Hg(II) Melamine Responsive Sponge 



The authors acknowledge the financial support by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. U1403295 and U1703129) and the CAS/SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Environmental Sciences and Technology, Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Key Laboratory of Functional Materials and Devices for Special EnvironmentsChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Shaanxi University of Science and TechnologyXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Aix Marseille Univ, Coll France, Cerege, CNRS, INRA, IRDEuropole Mediterraneen ArboisAix en ProvenceFrance

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