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Sustainable Nanomaterials for Water Treatment in the Developing World

Project Advisor
Professor Jillian Goldfarb - goldfarb@cornell.edu

Project Area/Concentration
Nanomaterials; Water Treatment; Catalyst

Project Description
Access to safe drinking water is considered a fundamental human right; when access is denied there are widespread health, education and economic implications that are exacerbated by rapid urbanization in developing nations. To address these problems, we are synthesizing a variety of heterogeneous hierarchical porous materials (high surface area materials with nanoscale active sites) for water treatment using novel greener processes. For this project, the student will fabricate an inexpensive, stable, reusable “foam” silicon bead dotted with zinc oxide (a photocatalyst) to degrade organic contaminants such as pharmaceuticals in water via sunlight. In a team of 2-3, students will fabricate and characterize zinc oxide nanoparticles, and then embed these nanoparticles in a foam made by sugar templating a silicon polymer. After characterizing its surface area and stability, the students will investigate the material’s ability to remediate water contaminated with organic compounds to propose a point-of-use device to address critical needs for safe drinking water in developing nations.

Students will learn a variety of materials fabrication and characterization techniques and analytical chemistry laboratory skills and will develop an understanding of photocatalysis for water treatment. Students with a background in Environmental or Chemical Engineering, Chemistry or Materials Science, will be best suited for this project. This project is open to teams of 2-3 students.

Figure 1. Design of porous heterogeneous hierarchical materials for photocatalytic water treatment
Figure 1. Design of porous heterogeneous hierarchical materials for photocatalytic water treatment

Possible Courses

Course number Course title
AEP 6610 Nanocharacterization
BEE 6310 Multivariate Statistics for Environmental Applications
CEE 5921 Sustainable Engineering in Context
CEE 6530 Water Chemistry for Environmental Engineering
CEE 6550 Transport, Mixing, and Transformation in the Environment
CEE 6560 Physical/Chemical Process
CHEME 7110 Advanced Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics
CHEME 7130 Chemical Kinetics and Transport
CHEME 7310 Advanced Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer
MSE 5150 Structures and Materials for Sustainable Energy Systems
MSE 5550 Introduction to Composite Materials
MSE 5810 Materials Chemistry
MSE 5820 Mechanical Properties of Materials, Processing, and Design
MSE 5830 Thermodynamics of Condensed Systems
MSE 5840 Kinetics, Diffusion, and Phase Transformation
MSE 6010 Chemistry of Materials
MSE 6030 Thermodynamics of Materials
MSE 6210 Solid State Chemistry