PI: Carlos Romero
Co-PI(s): Arup SenGupta
University: Lehigh University
A major issue currently facing society is the demand not only for clean drinking water but also for water that can be recycled for industrial applications. Due to an increased understanding of the health and environmental effects of toxic metals in aqueous environments, and associated environmental regulations, water treatment technologies suited for speciated forms of regulated toxic metals are in high demand. Target applications include coal-fired effluent streams, such as from wet desulfurization systems, as well as municipal wastewater sources and agricultural drainage. There is strong interest in water cleaning technologies capable of removing most toxic species of these pollutants; for example, mercury in its cationic states, Hg(I) and Hg(II), and selenium in its anionic forms, Se(IV) and Se(VI), as well as nitrate in municipal treated wastewater.

Lehigh University and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. plan to develop a novel water treatment technology based on a new class of low-cost sorbents, known as Hybrid Ion Exchange Zirconium Oxide Nanomaterials or HIX-NanoZr, with specific affinities toward both toxic metals, metalloids, and nitrates. An important feature of these sorbents is their indicated regeneration and reuse over thousands of cycles using simply carbon dioxide (CO2) or lime, depending on the required acidity or basicity of the application.

The project team proposes a project using PITA funding to focus on testing of the HIX-NanoZr concept in terms of its regeneration with CO2. The results of the project will be used in the further development of a prototype unit capable of demonstrating the integrated water treatment process in the field. The ultimate goal is the development of commercial technology for treatment of impaired water that meets upcoming toxic metal effluent regulations.