Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment: A Vision to Enable Decentralized Water Purification and Reuse
A free public seminar by Pedro J.J. Alvarez, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Rice University.
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, electrical and/or antimicrobial properties that enable new technology platforms for next-generation water treatment. This presentation will address emerging opportunities for nanotechnology to meet a growing need for safer and more efficient decentralized water treatment and reuse. Examples of nano-enabled technologies that can enhance the removal of priority micro-pollutants include fouling-resistant membranes; capacitive deionization with highly conductive and selective electrodes to remove multivalent ions; rapid magnetic separation using superparamagnetic nanoparticles; solar-thermal processes enabled by nanophotonics to desalinate with membrane distillation; disinfection and advanced oxidation using nanocatalysts; and nanostructured surfaces that discourage microbial adhesion and protect infrastructure against biofouling and corrosion. On the other hand, it is important to consider the unintended consequences of potential interactions of ENMs with living beings. Because microorganisms form the basis of all known ecosystems and provide many critical environmental services, the implications of microbial-nanoparticle interactions will also be considered in the context of risks associated with accidental or incidental ENM releases. This analysis will focus on how water chemistry affects nanoparticle bioavailability, mobility, toxicity and reactivity, and how to steward safer and eco-responsible nanotechnology.
Brought to you by NSERC CREATE Green Chemistry & TISED