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ApplicationsofNanobiotechnologyinwastewatertreatment

Water is one of the most important resources for sustaining human life.
Exclusivityofwaterisconsideredcentraltoevolutionoflifeonearth.Reliableand
sustainablesupplyofwaterisoneofthemostbasichumanitariangoalsandyet
remains a challenge to meet globally. Major civilizations developed around
riverine systems due to availability of ample supply of water and fertile land.
Providingcleanandaffordablewatertomeethumanneedsisagrandchallenge
ofthe21stcentury.Worldwide,watersupplystrugglestokeepupwiththefast
growing demand, which is aggravated by population growth, global climate
change,andwaterqualitydeterioration.Theneedfortechnologicalinnovationto
enable integrated water management cannot be overstated. Nanotechnology
holds great potential in advancing water and wastewater treatment to improve
treatment efficiency as well as to augment water supply through safe use of
unconventional water sources. Developments in nanotechnology have started
providing reliable solutions for water and wastewater treatment. The range of
candidate nanomaterials, properties and mechanisms that enable the
applications, advantages and limitations as compared to existing processes, and
barriers and research needs for commercialization will be discussed here.
Application of biotechnology knowledge for development of antimicrobial
nanomaterials, reduction of pollutants in water using nanomaterials and
nanomaterials for removal of contaminants are some of the fields which have
applicationofbiotechnology.
CurrentandPotentialapplicationforwaterandwastewatertreatment
Nanomaterialsaretypicallydefinedasmaterialssmallerthan100nminatleast
one dimension. At this scale, materials often possess novel sizedependent
properties different from their large counterparts which might already be
exploredforthewatertreatmentpurposes.Thesepropertiesmayrelatetothe
high specific surface area, such as fast dissolution, high reactivity, and strong
sorption, or to their discontinuous properties, such as super paramagnetism,

localized surface plasmon resonance, and quantum confinement effect. Most


applicationsarestillinthestageoflaboratoryresearch.
1) Adsoption
Adsorption is commonly used to remove organic and inorganic contaminants in
waterandwastewatertreatment.Nanosorbentsprovidesignificantimprovement
overconventionaladsorberntswiththeirextremelyhighspecificsurfaceareaand
associatedsorptionsites,shortintraparticlediffusiondistance,andtunablepore
sizeandsurfacechemistry.
a) Carbonbasednanoadsorbents
OrganicremovalCNTisbetterthanactivatedcarbonforremovalofvarious
organic wastes chemicals. Its high adsorption capacity is mainly due to the
large specific surface area and the diverse contaminantCNT interactions. In
aqueousphase,CNTformaggregatesduetohydrophobicityoftheirgraphitic
surfaces. These aggregates contain interstitial spaces and grooves for with
high absorption energy for organic molecules. CNTs have more capacity for
absorptionororganicbulkymoleculesbecauseoflargeporesinbundlesand
moreaccessiblesorptionsites.Theyabsorbpolarorganiccompoundsdueto
diverse contaminantCNT interactions like hydrophobic effect, pipi
interactions (for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Polar aromatic
compounds), hydrogen bonding(for compounds with COOH, NH2, OH
functional groups), covalent bonding and electrostatic interactions (for
positivelychargedorganiccontaminantslikeantibiotics).
HeavymetalremovalOxidizedCNTshavehighadsorptioncapacityformetal
ions with fast kinetics. The surface functional groups of CNTs absorb metal
ions through electrostatic interactions and chemical bonding. Thus, surface
oxidationcansignificantlyenhancetheabsorptioncapacityofCNTs.Theymay
notbeagoodalternativeforactivatedcarbonaswidespectrumadsorbents,
but since their surface chemistry can be tuned to target specific
contaminants, they may have unique applications in polishing steps to
remove recalcitrant compounds or in preconcentration of trace organic
contaminants for analytical purposes. Recently it was found that sand

gran
nules coatted with graphite
g
oxide
o
was efficient in removving Hg2+ and
Rho
odamineBwithefficiiencycomp
parabletoactivatedcarbon.
Reggeneration and reuse
e Adsorpttion of meetal ions caan be easily reversed by
reducing the solution pH and adsorptioon capacity remainss stable aafter
rege
eneration.Forexample,CNTnanosorbenntscanbe regenerattedandreu
used
forseveralhundredtimesforefficcientremo
ovalofZn2+ions.
b) Mettalbasedn
nanoadsorbents
Iron
noxide,titaniumoxid
deandaluminaareeeffectiveadsorbentsformetalions
and
d radionuclides. It in
ncludes fasst adsorptiion of metal ions on the exteernal
surffacefollow
wedbyrate
elimitingin
ntraparticleediffusion
nalongmiccroporew
walls.

Dun
nwellgroupinHongkkong(http:://www.duunwellgrou
up.com)ad
doptsatyp
peof
polyymeric nan
noparticless, which iss developeed by The Hong Kon
ng Polytecchnic
Univversity, an
nd has be
een succe
essfully appplied for wastewater treatm
ment
(sho
ownabove
e).Thenanoparticle
esusedintthisprocessscaneffeectivelyadsorb
mosst of reccalcitrant organic and inorrganic con
ntaminants presentt in
wasstewater. The satturated nanoparticcles conttaining the adsorbed
contaminantsscanbese
eparatedb
byusingthhevibratin
ngmembraaneseparaation

systtem,andttheneasilyyregenerattedformuultipleuseswithout affectingttheir
adsorptioncapacityforthetargetedcompounds.

Usin
ngmagnetticnanopaarticlesforheavymeetalremovval
Watter pollution by toxic heavy metals
m
occcurs globally. Strict environmeental
regu
ulations on the disccharge of heavy
h
mettals and riising demaands for cclean
watterwithexxtremelylo
owlevelso
ofheavym
metalsmakkeitgreatlyyimportan
ntto
devvelop vario
ous efficien
nt technologies for heavy meetal removval. Numeerous
nan
nomaterialss are in various
v
sttages of rresearch aand development, eeach
possessing unique fun
nctionalitie
es that arre potenttially applicable to the
rem
mediation of industtrial waste
ewater, ggroundwater, surfacce water and
drin
nkingwate
er.Themaiingoalfor mostofthhisresearcchistodevveloplowcost
and
d environm
mentally frriendly maaterials fo
or removall of heavyy metals ffrom
watter.Arecentexample
eisanove
ellowcostmagnetic sorbentm
materialforrthe
rem
moval of heavy metaal ions from water, developed
d by scien
ntists in Ch
hina,
who
ocoatedirronoxidem
magneticn
nanoparticles(Fe3O4 magnetite)withhu
umic
acid
d (HA). The coating greatly en
nhanced m
material sttability and
d heavy m
metal
rem
movalefficiencyofthenanoparrticles.

Ove
erallschem
mehasbee
enshownaaboveinsiimplifiedm
manner.Itisexpected
d
thatttheasprreparedFe3O4/HumiccAcidhasw
wideappliicabilityinthe
rem
movalofhe
eavymetalsfromvariouswaterrs(Jingfuetal,2008
8).

AntimicrobialNanomaterials
The antibacterial nanoparticles are classified into three general categories:
naturally occurring antibacterial substances, metals and metal oxides, and
novelengineerednanomaterials.Thesenanoparticlesinteractwithmicrobial
cellsthroughavarietyofmechanisms.Thevarioustypesofantimicrobial
nanomaterials are reviewed in this paper. The nanoparticles can either
directly interact with the microbial cells, e.g. interrupting transmembrane
electrontransfer,disruptingorpenetratingthecellenvelope,oroxidizingcell
components,orproducesecondaryproducts(e.g.reactiveoxygenspecies
(ROS)ordissolvedheavymetalions)thatcausedamage.

AntimicrobialNanomaterialsandDisinfectionMechanisms
Various antimicrobial nanomaterials and their disinfecting mechanisms are
reviewedfromliteratureasfollowing.
1)ChitosanandPeptides
Synthesized nanoparticles of naturally occurring chitosan and peptides have
many potential applications in low cost water disinfection systems. The
antibacterial mechanism of natural peptides is osmotic collapse through the
formation of nanoscale channels in bacterial cell membranes. The
antimicrobial properties of chitosan nanoparticles have been explained by
various mechanisms. One theory proposes increase in membrane
permeability and eventual rupture and leakage of intracellular components
whenthepositivelychargedchitosanparticlesreactwithnegativelycharged
cell membranes as the chief antimicrobial mechanism. Another mechanism
proposes chitosan penetrates cell membrane walls and binds with DNA and
thus inhibits RNA synthesis in cells. Potential applications of nanoscale
chitosanandpeptidesincludesurfacecoatingsofwaterstoragetanksorasan
antimicrobialagentinmembranes,sponges.

2) Silver Nanoparticles Nanoparticles of silver release large quantities of


silver ions (Ag+) when they interact with bacterial cells. These ions are very
reactive and form reactive oxygen species (ROS) within the cells by reacting
with thiol groups in the enzymes. ROS formation renders the respiratory

enzymes inactive leading to cell death. The structural integrity and


permeability of the cell membrane is compromised by Ag + ions which
accumulate inside the membrane by forming pits causing large increase in
membranepermeability.Ag+ionsalsopreventDNAreplicationbydamaging
DNAandRNA.SilverionsalsoshowphotocatalyticactivityinpresenceofUV
radiation and this is useful in disinfection of microbes. Many current water
purification and disinfection systems use membranes impregnated with
nanoscalesilverparticles.
3)Ti02NanoparticlesTi02showsexcellentphotocatalyticactivityinpresence
ofUVradiation.TheantibacterialactivityofTi02ismainlydue
to ROS production, especially hydroxyl free radicals and peroxide formed
under UV irradiation by means of oxidative and reductive sequence of
chemicalreactionstakingplacewithinacell.Oneoftheimportantfeaturesof
disinfectionusingTi02nanoparticlesistheirabilitytoshowphotocatalytic
activityeveninpresenceofvisiblesunlight.Thiscanbeenhancedbydoping
Ti02withvariousmetals.Ti02iswidelyusedinmanydisinfectionapplications
nowadays. Ti02 is suitable for applications in water treatment because it is
stableinwater,nontoxicbyingestionandlowcost.Ti02canbeappliedasa
thinfilmcoatedonareactorsurfaceoramembranefilterorasasuspension
inaslurryUVreactor.
4)ZnONanoparticlesSimilartoTi02,nanosizedZnOalsoshowshighUV
absorption efficiency and photocatalytic activity. One of the main
mechanismsofphotocatalyticdegradationbyZnOisattributedtogeneration
ofhydrogenperoxidewithinthecells.

Conclusion Clean water is essential and critical for all human activities
ranging from simple household chores to the very complex industrial and
agricultural processes. Current water distribution and supply concepts are
inefficientowingthevariousdrawbacksofthesesystemswhichincludelarge
demandonresources,lowefficiencyinwaterpurificationandtreatment,high
cost of operating the plant, chances of contamination during transport to
remote locations etc. Current water purification and wastewater treatment
methodscancontroltheorganicandinorganicwastesfromwater.But,these

methods are energy intensive and uneconomical because of nonreusable


membranesandfilters,inabilitytocompletelypurifywater,inabilitytomake
reuseoftheretentate,etc. Variouskeyissuesandchallengesstillremainin
successfulincorporation,scalingupandcommercializationofnanotechnology
applications in inhibiting the bacterial pathogens, removal of heavy metals,
xenobiotics leading to water purification and wastewater treatment. The
ability to synthesize cost effective nanomaterials and their availability at
industrial scale will determine the progress rate at which nanotechnology
applications are accepted on industrial level. This chapter gives an overall
glimpse of the applications of nanobiotechnology in controlling the water
qualityinwastewater.

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