Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Materials Science
Idi Tulloch - University of South Florida
Co-Author(s): Sylvia Thomas
Despite modern technological advancements, access to clean and safe drinking water remains one of the Grand Challenges of the 21st century. Globally, 1 out of 6 persons do not have adequate access to safe drinking water, and more than double that number still lack basic sanitation, for which clean water is essential. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the presence of inorganic arsenic in contaminated water represents one of the greatest threats to public health both in the developing world as well as among underserved communities in the US. Long-term exposure to arsenic from unsafe drinking-water can cause cancer and skin lesions, and has been associated with cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, diabetes, adverse pregnancy outcomes and infant mortality. The process of filtration can be used to remove harmful impurities from a specific product, such as arsenic. In current filtration systems very few are affordable, fabricated with a sustainable natural material, or utilize inexpensive technology. There are many nanofiber meshes available in the market but most of them are not biodegradable and are made up of non-organic materials.
In this research, arsenic will be removed using a nanofiber membrane fabricated using cactus mucilage, polystyrene (PS) and iron oxide in an electrospinning process. This cactus mucilage is jelly like environmentally sustainable, biodegradable and biocompatible. The methodology used for this work is to create a standalone nanomembrane that has the ability to be placed in a columnar filtration system with and without sand. The combination of the membrane and bio-sand filtration we seek have an optimized process. Membranes in previous data of composition PS: Mucilage: Iron Oxide showed results of removal of arsenic with an Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry (AFS). Results from AFS indicated that fibers obtained using polystyrene: 1% mucilage (70:30 by volume) with iron oxide has greatest environmental impact when compared to other samples. This is because it is the only solution which has a large amount of mucilage and iron oxide that makes fibers. The columnar filtration system present data for removal of contaminants consisting of sand is bio sand filtration (BSF) system which helps to remove bacteria pathogens fluorine and arsenic. A comparative result is still in progress for the bio sand filtration using the mucilage nanofiber membrane. In conclusion, a nanoflirtation system using the natural plant-based material of cactus mucilage has been demonstrated to remove arsenic and fluoride from water. Future research will include investigating the impacts of adding aluminum oxide to the mucilage material composite, electrospinning a nanomembrane, and testing in a filtration system.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under CBET-1512225: SusChEM: Graded Interpenetrating Polymer Membranes Based on Sustainable Materials for Selective Removal of Organics from Water. Additional support provided by the NSF Florida-Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (FGLSAMP) HRD #1201981. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.
Faculty Advisor: Sylvia Thomas, email@example.com
Role: My part in this research was with electrospinning to create nanofibers. I then did various experiments with different compositions of mixtures to compare what composition would best work for what wanted to be achieved.