Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment

Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment: A Vision to Enable Decentralized Water Purification and Reuse (a talk by Pedro Alvarez, Rice University)

Overview: 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. A seminar brought to you by NSERC CREATE Green Chemistry & TISED on September 22, 2015.

PDF icon pedro_alvarez_presentation_22sept2015.pdf

About our Speaker: Pedro J.J. Alvarez, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Rice University

Pedro 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 implications and applications of nanotechnology, bioremediation, fate and transport of toxic chemicals, water footprint of biofuels, water treatment and reuse, and antibiotic resistance control.. Pedro 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. Pedro is a Fellow of AAAS, ASCE, IWA, WEF and the Leopold Leadership Foundation, and a founding member of the Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences. Past honors include President of AEESP, the AEESP Frontiers in Research Award, the WEF McKee Medal for Groundwater Protection, the SERDP cleanup project of the year award, the Button of the City of Valencia, the Collegiate Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Iowa; the Alejo Zuloaga Medal from the Universidad de Carabobo, Venezuela; a Career Award from the National Science Foundation; a Rackham Fellowship, and various best paper awards with his students. Pedro currently serves as Associate Editor of Environmental Science and Technology, and as honorary professor at Nankai University in Tianjin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, and as adjunct professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, Brazil; he recently completed service on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.