Magnetic nanoparticle recovery device (MagNERD) enables application of iron oxide nanoparticles for water treatment

Camilah D. Powell, Ariel J. Atkinson, Yizhao Ma, Mariana Marcos-Hernandez, Dino Villagran, Paul Westerhoff, Michael S. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


An optimized permanent magnetic nanoparticle recovery device (i.e., the MagNERD) was developed and operated to separate, capture, and reuse superparamagnetic Fe3O4 from treated water in-line under continuous flow conditions. Experimental data and computational modeling demonstrate how the MagNERD’s efficiency to recover nanoparticles depends upon reactor configuration, including the integration of stainless-steel wool around permanent magnets, hydraulic flow conditions, and magnetic NP uptake. The MagNERD efficiently removes Fe3O4 in the form of a nanopowder, up to > 95% at high concentrations (500 ppm), under scalable and process-relevant flow rates (1 L/min through a 1.11-L MagNERD reactor), and in varying water matrices (e.g., ultrapure water, brackish water). The captured nanoparticles were recoverable from the device using a simple hydraulic backwashing protocol. Additionally, the MagNERD removed ≥ 94% of arsenic-bound Fe3O4, after contacting As-containing simulated drinking water with the nanopowder. The MagNERD emerges as an efficient, versatile, and robust system that will enable the use of magnetic nanoparticles in larger scale water treatment applications. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number48
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Adsorption
  • Arsenic
  • Environmental nanotechnology
  • Nano-magnetism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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