Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019NV167B

Degradation of emerging contaminants in treated wastewater using immobilized non-zero valent iron

Institute: Nevada
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-05-31 End Date: 2020-05-30
Total Federal Funds: $28,287 Total Non-Federal Funds: $55,873

Principal Investigators: Erick Bandala

Abstract: The objective of this proposal is to produce a water treatment prototype made with nanoscale zero-valent iron embedded in porous materials with enhanced properties to generate oxidation or reduction processes, and assessing its feasibility in environmental applications for the removal of emerging contaminants (ECs) in treated wastewater. Zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI) have gained interest because of its promises for environmental restoration applications. The challenges that have discouraged its full scale use can be solved by the application of novel advanced synthetic techniques to avoid the drawbacks identified in its performance. Assessing the feasibility of the novel materials for further application should be the final stage on its development and will provide with information for its full development. We have accomplished the synthesis and characterization of nZVI immobilized in a silica-based mesoporous matrix (SBA-15) and different activated carbon materials efficient in the production of hydroxyl radicals for Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs) and successfully applied for degradation of dyes and surfactants in aqueous phase. Additional research is needed to assess the feasibility of the proposed material for real scale application. The goal of this proposal is to improve the performance of nZVI by embedding the generated nZVI in a porous matrix, and assess its capabilities for promoting advanced oxidation/reduction processes for the removal of ECs. This project advances different aspects of Environmental Engineering and solve a specific contamination problem. nZVI has been studied for its ability to reduce or oxidize organic pollutants, but its tendency to agglomerate pose a significant limitation for its use. Immobilization technique is an approaches proposed to solve this limitation that has not being sufficiently tested. Our work aims to establish the reliable synthesis of nZVI embedded within the pores of a solid matrix that may avoid nZVI agglomeration and optimize its reactivity and stability for better performance in oxidation/reduction processes. The potential of the novel synthesized materials to promote oxidation or reduction processes will be assessed by measuring its capability to degrade ECs. In general this research will (i) demonstrate proof of concept on the use of novel nanomaterials for the treatment of wastewater contaminated with emerging contaminants (antibiotics), (ii) pioneer the preparation of zero-valent nanoparticles with well-controlled size, structure, and composition; immobilized in a porous solid matrix, (iii) test their enhanced capability for producing advanced oxidation or reduction processes (iv) identify the effect of common water parameters in the oxidation and/or reduction process applied for the degradation of antibiotics; and (v) identify the generation of reaction by-products and follow up the reaction using kinetic models. The main benefit of this proposal is developing innovative approaches for the treatment of emerging contaminants in treated wastewater. The technology proposed in this project is expected to be highly cost-effective and more efficient than the technologies being used and will bring the opportunity for applications in the management of other sites with similar or related contamination problems. The fundamental idea is related with destructive processes that will eliminate the contamination problem -and not only transfer it from one phase into another- avoiding the need of future environmental liability or disposal requirements. Additionally, educational and research benefits are also expected from this proposal related to the synthesis, characterization and potential application of the proposed novel materials. Opportunities to acquire skills for nanomaterials synthesis, functionalization, structural characterizations, and optimization of oxidation/reduction properties will be provided.