Research Area: Environmental science, analytical chemistry.
Supervisor: Prof Bill
Description: The objective of this project is to identify biomass sources that currently contribute to waste and landfill that are reusable in the bioremediation of heavy-metal polluted water.
Water is a valuable resource under increasing demand worldwide and is exposed to numerous sources of pollution. While a certain amount of heavy-metal pollution can occur naturally, industrial effluent is a highly scrutinised source which can have severe repercussions for the environment (ecologically) and industry (financially). Natural sources of biomass (e.g. fungi ) have been proven to be an inexpensive and effective adsorbate for the removal of metal contaminants in water. Various naturally occurring proteinaceous materials exhibit high capacity binding of metals. This project will focus on determining the efficiency of various materials in their ability to remove heavy-metals from solution, involving characterising the adsorption kinetics and pH dependence for different sources of biomass. "Cleaned" metal solutions will be analysed by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) for residual concentrations.
Subsequent to the ICP-MS results, further characterisation of the binding mechanisms may be investigated. Localisation of concentrated metals can be determined with Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS, Ian Wark)), while binding functional groups can be identified with either X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS, Ian Wark) and X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES, Tsukuba, Japan). There is potential for the incumbent to travel to and assist with the experiments proposed in Japan.
1) Heavy-metal removal from aqueous solution by fungus Mucor rouxii, G. Yan et al. Water Research 2003, 37, 4486-4496.