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Cycle 6 (2017 Deadline)

Removal of hazardous materials from aqueous solution using nanofiber membranes 

PI: Suhad Yasin,, University of Duhok
U.S. Partner: Vince Beachley, Rowan University
Dates: March 2018 - February 2021

Project Overview:

This project is focused on the study of the functions of nanofiber membranes and their use to remove heavy metals from aqueous solutions. In the short term, the researchers will study electrospinning parameters in order to design nanofibers from available waste materials in Kurdistan Region. Long-term goals include broadening the technology of electrospinning nanofiber membranes as an option to conventional membranes and polymer beads. The electrospun membrane, in particular, may be successfully applied in water treatment and biotechnology, where the removal of toxic materials requires materials with a high surface area. In addition to the high surface area, changes in the surface chemistry of the nanofibers may also do wonders for their performance.

Nanofiber technology has hugely impacted both science and engineering disciplines. The motivations for the miniaturization process of polymers are based on producing nano-sized fibers with superior properties (for example, excellent mechanical properties and a large surface area per unit mass) compared to microfiber and film. The functionalities of the polymers plus the unique characteristics of nanofibers originated from them and being engineered in various forms have allowed nanofibers to be used in advanced applications such as filtration, multifunctional membranes, composite reinforcement, tissue engineering scaffolds, drug delivery, and wound dressings. As for water purification, a very important application in water-scare areas such a Iraq, adsorption is a technique that can potentially achieve high yields of heavy metal removal even for low concentration effluents. It can be a more cost-effective process to remove and recover heavy metals, based on the choice of adsorbent material. This PEER award will support fundamental research into a new adsorbent prepared from waste polymers. It will be the first research project in nanotechnology carried out at the University of Duhok. By providing opportunities for several researchers to gain firsthand experience in nanotechnology research, the program will help to improve the research infrastructure and enhance research collaboration both within the department and with the U.S. partner.

Summary of Recent Activities:

As of June 2018, the project is still in the beginning stages. A seminar was organized at the Department of Chemistry, University of Duhok to present the goals and benefits of the PEER project and participants included faculty, staff, and students. The opening of PEER project laboratory was held by the president of the University of Duhok and the dean of the College of Science in the research center of the College of Science, with heads of research centers, researchers, lecturers, and graduate students from various college departments attending.

The research group also participated and presented at the World Environment Day at Environment Protection and Improvement Board in Duhok. The presentation provided the audience members with information on ways the project supports the province of Duhok. The attendees included the governor of Duhok and the heads of all government offices in Duhok. Interviews with four television national channels were held to inform the public about the PEER project and to explain its aims and benefits. Future events include organizing a workshop for 15 female undergraduate students at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Duhok.

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