Opportunities and Challenges for Advanced Materials in Water Treatment and Reuse: Targeting Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Overview

On August 28th and 29th, 2017, TISED will host a two-day Research Workshop Program convening various stakeholders to on the topic of water treatment. We will also host a public event on August XXth: "Opportunities and Challenges for Advanced Materials in Water Treatment and Reuse: Targeting Contaminants of Emerging Concern" 

Public and environmental health are threatened by a wide variety of water pollutants of emerging concern, including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, endocrine disruptors, perfluorinated compounds, and multi-drug-resistant bacteria. Frequent detection of such contaminants in natural waters and sewage treatment plant effluents underscore the need for technological innovation and capacity vitalization of water treatment infrastructure.  

Through control over material size, morphology and chemical structure, nanotechnology offers novel materials that could endow water treatment systems with superior catalytic, adsorptive, optical, quantum, electrical and/or antimicrobial properties.  These engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) can enable multi-functional technology platforms for next-generation water treatment systems with superior capacity to process larger volumes of water with a smaller footprint, and decrease costs associated with energy requirements and waste residuals management. ENMs can also help match the treated water quality to the intended use (i.e., “fit-for-purpose treatment”) to further lower treatment costs. Promising applications for advanced materials include selective adsorbents, solar-thermal processes enabled by nanophotonics to desalinate water with membrane distillation, fouling-resistant membranes with embedded ENMs that allow for self-cleaning and repair; capacitive deionization with highly conductive and selective electrodes to remove multivalent ions that precipitate or cause scaling; rapid magnetic separation or heavy metals and other inorganic pollutants using superparamagnetic nanoparticles; disinfection and advanced oxidation using nano-photocatalysts; and nanostructured surfaces that discourage microbial adhesion and protect infrastructure against biofouling and corrosion.

This workshop will focus on emerging opportunities and sustainable approaches for the application of such advanced materials for water treatment and reuse. Research priorities to overcome potential technological and economical barriers associated with the development and application of ENM and other advanced materials for will also be addressed. We will also explore multidisciplinary collaborations and industrial/governmental partnerships to enable cost-effective removal of recalcitrant contaminants of emerging concern in a manner that minimizes chemical and energy use as well as waste production. 

Speakers

Pedro Alvarez, Moderator, TISED Scholar-in-Residence, McGill University

Dr. Pedro J. J. Alvarez is the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University, where he also serves as Director of the NSF ERC on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT).  His research interests include environmental applications and implications of nanotechnology, bioremediation of toxic chemicals, water footprint of biofuels, water treatment and reuse, and antibiotic resistance control. Dr. Alvarez received the B. Eng. Degree in Civil Engineering from McGill University and MS and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan. He is the 2012 Clarke Prize laureate and also won the 2014 AAEES Grand Prize for Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science.


Gregory Lowry, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Greg Lowry is the Walter J. Blenko, Sr. Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He teaches courses in Environmental Fate and Transport of Organic Compounds in Aquatic Systems, Environmental Nanotechnology, Fundamentals of Water Quality Engineering, and Environmental Sampling and Sample Characterization.

His research interests broadly include Environmental Nanotechnology, Energy and Environment, and Environmental Remediation. Specific current research areas include characterizing nanoparticle transformations and reactivity is soils, water and plants, targeted and efficient delivery of nano-enabled fertilizers and nutrients, and contaminant fate in the subsurface.

He is an experimentalist working on a variety of fundamental and application-oriented research projects including developing and testing nano-enabled environmental technologies for sustainable agriculture and remediation, and characterizing the environmental fate processes of engineered and natural nanomaterials and organics in soils and porous media.


François Bouffard, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, TISED, McGill University

The planning and operation of microgrids represent a wide set of exciting problems which are challenging some of the core principles of electric power engineering. Nonetheless, these challenges give rise to multiple opportunities for improving energy system resilience and carbon footprint. In this presentation, we look at some of those challenges and opportunities through a Québec lens. We will discuss some scenarios for microgrids to be rolled out within this truly distinct power system.


Angelo Giumento, Manager Smart Grid & Technology Solutions at Hydro-Québec


 Peter Lilienthal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), HOMER Energy

There are tens of thousands of microgrids around the world, but the majority of them are very simple diesel-powered systems. Advances in renewable energy, storage, power electronics and control technology are being deployed to create more sustainable microgrids supplying high quality, reliable power.  This presentation will distil insights from HOMER Energy’s database of 25,000 microgrid projects in 193 countries.  These projects range from tiny systems to power African villages that have never before had power to power systems for islands the size of St. Thomas, Aruba, or Maui.  A new category is the grid-connected microgrids that are being developed to make critical infrastructure more resilient against catastrophic events, such as ice storms and terrorist actions. Hurricane Sandy has prompted local authorities throughout the Northeast US to develop pilot projects. The best example of this is in New York State, where the NY Prize program has funded 83 conceptual designs and is now pursuing final design on 11 projects throughout the state.  NY is also embarking on its ambitious REV (Reforming Energy Vision) program to incentivize utility companies to promote distributed power and microgrids.


Pierre-Olivier Pineau, Professor, Department of Decision Sciences, Chair in Energy Sector Management, HEC Montréal

Canada has the largest energy consumption per capita in the world, among countries with a population greater than 5 million. This is in part explained by the very high electricity consumption in Canada, fueled by the abundant and cheap hydroelectricity available in some provinces, especially in Quebec, where most of the hydropower production takes place. Hydropower development in Quebec is based on megagrids, with many power plants at 1,000 km from loads. Residential users consume between 13 and 20 MWh per year on average, depending on their region. Consequently, microgrids developments will face many obstacles.


Saad Sayeef, Research Scientist, CSIRO

Australia’s electricity system supports our economy and lifestyle and it is changing at an unprecedented scale. The transformation is driven by customers, as they embrace new technologies, take control of their energy usage and support action on climate change. Australia, like Canada, has a vast land area with some of the world’s longest transmission lines and feeders. The country also has a large number of remote communities that are powered by off-grid systems, where the penetration of renewables has been increasing significantly in recent years. This presentation will provide an overview of recent trials, deployments, and developments in the microgrids space across Australia.