"Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment" Presented by Prof. Pedro Alvarez
Through control over material size, morphology and chemical structure, nanotechnology offers novel materials that are nearly “all surface,” and that can be more reactive per atom than bulk materials. Such engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) can offer superior catalytic, adsorptive, optical, quantum, electrical and/or antimicrobial properties that enable multi-functional technology platforms for next-generation water treatment. This presentation will address emerging opportunities for nanotechnology to improve selectivity and efficiency to remove priority pollutants, decrease electrical energy requirements, and meet a growing need for safer and more affordable decentralized water treatment and reuse. Examples of applicable nano-enabled technologies include electrosorption with highly conductive and selective electrodes to remove multivalent ions that precipitate or cause scaling; solar-thermal processes enabled by nanophotonics to desalinate with membrane distillation; disinfection and advanced oxidation using nanocatalysts; and electrocatalytic degradation of recalcitrant organic pollutants of emerging concern. We envision using these enabling technologies to develop compact modular water treatment systems that are easy to deploy and can tap unconventional water sources and treat challenging wastewater to protect human lives and support economic development.
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Pedro J.J. Alvarez
Pedro J.J. Alvarez is the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University, where he also serves as founding Director of the NSF ERC on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT). His research interests include environmental implications and applications of nanotechnology, bioremediation, fate and transport of toxic chemicals, the water footprint of biofuels, water treatment and reuse, and antibiotic resistance control.