Superabsorbent Cryogels Decorated with Silver Nanoparticles as a Novel Water Technology for Point-of-Use Disinfection

This paper reports the preparation of poly­(sodium acrylate) (PSA) cryogels decorated with silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) for point-of-use (POU) water disinfection. The PSA/Ag cryogels combine the high porosity, excellent mechanical and water absorption properties of cryogels, and uniform dispersion of fine AgNPs on the cryogel pore surface for rapid disinfection with minimal Ag release (<100 μg L–1). They were used in a process that employed their ability to absorb water, which subsequently could be released via application of mild pressure. Their antibacterial performance was evaluated based on the disinfection efficacies of E. coli and B. subtilis. The PSA/Ag cryogels had excellent disinfection efficacies showing close to a 3 log reduction of viable bacteria after a brief 15 s contact time. They were highly reusable as there was no significant difference in the disinfection efficacies over five cycles of operation. The biocidal action of the PSA/Ag cryogels is believed to be dominated by surface-controlled mechanisms that are dependent on direct contact of the interface of PSA/Ag cryogels with the bacterial cells. The PSA/Ag cryogels are thought to offer a simpler approach for drinking water disinfection in disaster relief applications.