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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 - December 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:

In the third quarter of 2021, the PI and research team focused their efforts on local and international collaborations, as well as publishing their research work. In September, the team presented a poster in the Nanofibers, Applications, and Related Technologies 2021 at Istanbul Technical University. Similarly, the PI also presented her experience on developing a career in academia in Iraq, which featured panelists from numerous institutions. She presented the PEER project and how it has been instrumental in developing her career, as well as those of her team members including two female graduate students that were trained in the UoD lab this quarter.

The team also hosted PEER PI Dr. Mustafa Al- Mukhtar and discussed developing and expanding collaborations. They also collaborated with Dr. Gomaa A.M. Ali of Al-Azhar University in Egypt and jointly published a paper entitled “Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)-based nanofibers materials for heavy metal ions removal" in RSC Advances Journal. The team also submitted a research paper titled " "A Kinetic and Isotherm Study on Removing Methylene Blue from Aqueous Solutions by Oxidized Cellulose Nanostructure" to a special issue of "Women in Nanotechnology."

In the coming months, the team plans to receive a scanning electron microscope significantly expanding the scope and abilities of the PEER lab. They will also continue to work on publishing papers on their work and wrapping up various aspects of the project for project closeout.

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