Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) awarded a fellowship to Dr. G.Z.Kyzas in order to run his project entitled “Multifunctional super-adsorbent materials for efficient decontamination of oil spills and heavy metal effluents”.
Nowadays, the target of worldwide researchers is the environmental protection in line with the human health. So, it becomes necessary to turn the interest in real problems derived from industries, which directly influence the environmental and daily life. One of the most hazardous and toxic problem, affecting humans and environment, is oil contamination and the presence of heavy metals in aqueous media. This project entitled “Multifunctional materials for efficient decontamination of oil spills and tannery effluents “will be carried out in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Institute of Technology (EMaTTech) giving a new area in the multi-functionalization of materials.
“Oil contamination” means the pollution by oil discharge to land, water or air and thus the impact to the environment. For an efficient oil decontamination operation, the knowledge of the type of oil involved in the spill is mandatory. The major category is the petroleum-based oil. Another category of toxic pollutants existed in effluents is heavy metal ions (i.e. in tanneries). They can be found in a variety of industries (mining, metal processing, etc). Thus, it is required to remove heavy metals before discharge of various effluents. There are many adsorbents studied for oil decontamination and heavy metal removal as sand, clays, etc. But, in the current project, it will be given an alternative emphasis to the synthesis of polymeric materials, carbon and graphene-based adsorbents, clays (in different types), and some of new low-cost adsorbents.
To build the structure of the current project the first two inquiries will be the pollutant-targets: (i) petroleum-based oils (oil-spills), and (ii) heavy metal ions (tanneries). Then, the selection of the materials (adsorbents) which will be prepared: (i) low-cost (waste materials, agricultural products, by-products and naturally occurring minerals), (ii) polymeric-based adsorbents (oleophilic, hydrophobic), (iii) graphene-based materials. In this stage, the synthesis optimization will be taken into consideration. The next step will be the application of materials prepared in simulated and real effluents in lab tests (effect of temperature, viscosity, solvents, agitation, mass of adsorbent, pH, salinity etc). The most important step is the adsorption experiments in columns for use in industrial/commercial scaling. The regeneration of the adsorbents will establish the use of them in the next phase of project. Experiments in sequential regeneration cycles will give an economic aspect in the whole project. Many characetrization techniques will be done as SEM, TEM, XRD, DTG, TGA, FTIR, swelling tests in EMaTTech. The analysis of pollutants will be carried out either with UV-Vis or Atomic Absorption or even with Gas Chromatography.
Novelty – commercialization/prototype feasibility – TRL
The main novelty of this proposal is the attempt to involve/combine two decontamination procedures; firstly, the optimum adsorbent found from the oil spill clean-up, will be then tested to remove heavy metal ions from other real samples (i.e. tanneries). It is a novel concept involving the two decontaminations with the same type of method (adsorption) and materials (adsorbents). After synthesis and adsorption evaluation the prototype/commercialization step will be done. Industrial columns will be produced which will be consisted of the prepared materials in order to make an attempt to share them in market. This will give a real potential and applicability of the present project. It is noteworthy that this will be the first time of making this attempt (commercialization of this type of adsorbent columns). The promising idea of this study is the possibility to co-operate with industries to treat and propose new techniques more economic with higher efficiency.