Functionalized hydrophobic aerogel/solid support structure composites have been developed to remove metals and organic compounds from aqueous and vapor media. The targeted metals and organics are removed by passing the aqueous or vapor phase through the composite which can be in molded, granular, or powder form. The composites adsorb the metals and the organics leaving a purified aqueous or vapor stream. The species-specific adsorption occurs through specific functionalization of the aerogels tailored towards specific metals and/or organics. After adsorption, the composites can be disposed of or the targeted metals and/or organics can be reclaimed or removed and the composites recycled.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.