Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NE269B

Development of Smart Alginate Hybrid Beads for Eco-Friendly Water Treatment

Institute: Nebraska
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $30,779

Principal Investigators: Jaehong Shim, Patrick Shea

Abstract: Pollutants from heavy metals and metalloids to nitrate, phosphate, pharmaceuticals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compromise water quality, limiting water use efficiency. To mitigate contamination, alternative approaches are needed that are environmentally benign, cost-effective and practical, particularly when advanced technologies are not available or feasible. Our overall research goal is to develop and adapt eco-friendly solidification technology to remove contaminants from water and improve water quality for diverse applications. We seek to advance the development of novel composite materials using silica (obtainable from corn cob, rice hulls and other agricultural byproducts), chitosan (from shells), MnOx (MnO2,along with Mn2O3, Mn3O4; obtainable from spent batteries), immobilized urease (from beans), and carbonic anhydrase (from bovine erythrocytes) in a matrix of alginate gel from seaweed, creating “smart” hybrid beads for water treatment, targeting such problems such as agricultural runoff and VOC control from feedlots, acid mine drainage, and industrial waste water. Various applications of the materials will be tested, with the aim to mitigate pollution from the heavy metal Pb and metalloid As, agricultural pollutants nitrate and phosphate, the antibiotics tylosin and chlortetracycline, steroids trenbolone and melengestrol, and the VOCs trichloroethylene (groundwater contaminant) and p-cresol (feedlot VOC). We believe these inexpensive, biodegradable and nontoxic materials can facilitate management of contaminants by removing them or decreasing their availability in water.