PhD- topic: Study and optimization of metallic and organic pollutants extraction in contaminated water using glass nanocomposite

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    21/02/2019 00:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Not funded by an EU programme
    Estonia, Tartu
    Estonian University of Life Sciences
    Institute of Technology
    biosystems engineering

A PhD topic is availabale in the field described below. Interested candidates should take contact with the supervisor for further information on funding, elibility and competition. The duration of a PhD is 4 years.

The topic is described here below:

Clean water is a necessity, yet according to WHO, 844 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. The major culprit for water-related health problems are heavy metals, which may cause severe health problems. Contaminated water is an acute problem across the world, and currently no efficient technologies exist to efficiently remove multiple heavy metal ions and radioactive elements or radionuclides from water with one method. Metallic nanoparticles (MNP) have received extensive attention during the past decades due to their high potential applications such as catalysis, biomedical and water remediation. These nanomaterials appear to be a really promising material for water purification and they spurred a lot of investigation in this field.

Our group developed a new technology based on nanomaterials capable of extracting heavy metal ions from water via a single passage through the support on which they are deposited. The preliminary investigation showed that these nanocomposites enable the complete extraction of metallic pollutant like Pb, Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe among others by a simple passage of contaminated water through it.

The goal of this project is to study the extraction of arsenic contamination. The filter containing the sand coated with different nanomaterials will be tested. The goal is to understand the efficiency of the filter and test its efficiency on arsenic ions by combining different nanomaterials and perform bench scale tests to study the efficiency and lifetimes of such materials.


The main goal of the doctoral thesis is to study the extraction of different heavy metal ions and work closely with industries on the development of a lab scale pilot test. A filter combining activated carbon, sand or glass support and nanomaterials will be built and tested on different types of contaminated water containing different contaminants and different amount of contaminants. The extraction of critical contaminants like arsenic and uranium will be more particularly studied. In fact, due to their multiple oxidation states, these contaminants are more complicated to extract. The PhD student will have to work on the probable mechanisms that occur during the extraction. The degradation or organic contaminant like pharmaceutical and dye contaminants will be also tested.

In addition, the recycling of the exhausted active material will be also studied. The separation of the extracted metallic contaminant from the support materials (sand or glass) using temperature gradient will also be a part of the investigation performed by the PhD student. The final goal is to develop a water filter that is able to purify contaminated water at large scale for tap water and industrial waste water.

Background of required candidate: Materials Science, knowledge on water remediation, nanotechnology

Not mandatory but helpful: knowledge of water systems engineering.

Supervisors: Prof. Erwan Rauwel (erwan.rauwel@emu.ee) and Dr. Protima Rauwel (protima.rauwel@emu.ee)



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