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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 - June 2021

Project Overview:

6-072 PEER Lab
Team member conducts experiments inside the PEER Lab (Photo courtesy of Dr. Yasin).
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:

Despite the ongoing pandemic in the first quarter of 2021, the project team was able to establish regional collaborations, run international workshops, and focus efforts on publishing manuscripts. PI Yasin and her team conducted joint research work with Dr. Gomaa Sanad of Al-Azhar University resulting in publications and a strong relationship with an external materials lab, one of the first for Iraqi researchers.

In addition to this, PI Yasin co-chaired the Women in Science Without Borders (WISWB), World Forum for Women in Science 2021 event. The event took place March 8 – 10, 2021 and featured 118 researchers from the international community. The team also presented their poster, "A Kinetic Study of Removing Methylene Blue from Aqueous Solutions by Modified Electrospun Polyethelene Terephthalate Nanofibres." Dr.Parween Saleem, who completed her study at the UoD PEER project lab, presented this research.

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