McGill University researchers develop phosphorus-free anti-scaling solution based on nanotechnology

In a series of papers published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Materials Horizons and the American Chemical Society’s Applied Materials & Interfaces, a team of McGill University chemists and chemical engineers describe how they have developed a phosphorus-free anti-scaling solution based on a nanotechnology breakthrough named “hairy nanocellulose.”

Lead author Amir Sheikhi, now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, was then working as a postdoctoral fellow with McGill chemistry professor Ashok Kakkar. The breakthrough came when the research team succeeded in nanoengineering negatively charged carboxyl groups onto cellulose nanoparticles. The result was a particle that was no longer neutral, but instead carried charged functional groups capable of controlling the tendency of positively charged calcium ions to form scale.

Previous attempts to functionalize cellulose in this way focused on two earlier forms of nanoparticle – cellulose nanofibrils and cellulose nanocrystals. But these efforts produced only a minimal amount of useful product. The difference this time was that the McGill team worked with hairy nanocellulose – a new nanoparticle first discovered in the laboratory of McGill chemistry professor Theo van de Ven.

 “Overcoming Interfacial Scaling Using Engineered Nanocelluloses: A QCM-D Study,” Amir Sheikhi, Adam L. J. Olsson, Nathalie Tufenkji, Ashok Kakkar and Theo G. M. van de Ven. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, published online Sep. 11, 2018. doi:10.1021/acsami.8b07435
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsami.8b07435

“Nanoengineering colloidal and polymeric celluloses for threshold scale inhibition: towards universal biomass-based crystal modification,” Amir Sheikhi, Ashok Kakkar and Theo G. M. van de Ven. Materials Horizons 5: 248-255, 2018. doi:10.1039/C7MH00823F
https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2018/mh/c7mh00823f

Centrisys/CNP and WRF collaborate on phosphorus removal and recovery research

Centrisys/CNP in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is collaboratively working with water reclamation facilities to perform Tailored Collaborative Research (TCR), a program of The Water Research Foundation (WRF), to demonstrate phosphorus removal and recovery potential of the CalPrex process at the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District from September to November. The TCR will collect high-quality data from the CalPrex process and allow the participating facilities to evaluate high-rate phosphorus recovery prior to anaerobic digestion and its positive effects on operations and maintenance. This will help them better meet stringent biosolids regulations and simultaneously mitigate operations and maintenance issues related to phosphorus levels in sludge. A peer review of the findings will be conducted and the results will be disseminated to industry professionals through the WRF LIFT Link platform.

Tightening regulations both land applications and the sale of biosolids have water reclamation professionals eager to evaluate technologies that remove phosphorus from biosolids in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

Ben-Gurion University researchers participate in workshop on water challenges with University of Chicago and Northwestern University

A trilateral collaboration hosted by the University of Chicago on Oct. 8, with researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Northwestern University, met to develop new ideas and solutions to water-related problems. The Trilateral Workshop on Water Challenges and Solutions included researchers in engineering, chemistry, math, economics, geology, law and astronomy. During the workshop, researchers assembled in groups to discuss water challenges related to climate, energy, policy, separation and purification and basic science research. Potential projects included:

• Using cell phone data to track how water is collected in developing countries

• Harnessing solar power to fill wells

• Developing membranes that remove only the harmful salt ions from water

• Creating new kinds of membranes for water purification

• Using condensation to develop self-cleaning solar panels

In this new partnership, $720,000 of seed money provided by the three universities will be used to fund new ideas. The three institutions have collaborated on water research since 2013, when UChicago and BGU launched the Water Research Initiative with Argonne National Laboratory to find new methods of water production and purification. In 2017, another smaller, partnership was established between the Center for Water Research at Northwestern University and the Ben-Gurion University Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research.