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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 6 (2017 Deadline)

Design of metal-oxide nanoparticle reinforced nano-fibrous biopolymer composites for water treatment

PI: Wilson Gitari, mugera.gitari@univen.ac.za, University of Venda
U.S. Partner: James Smith, University of Virginia
January 2018 - January 2020


Project Overview:

The overall objective of this project is to fabricate multifunctional, biopolymer-metal oxide nanoparticle, reinforced composites for fluoride and pathogen removal in groundwater. Previously reported materials have low fluoride adsorption capacity, and there is no information on their capacity for disinfection of the treated water. The biopolymer composite that the PI and his team plan to develop is envisaged to have high fluoride adsorption capacity and at the same time remove pathogens, resulting in a powerful treatment system to deliver safe, fluoride-free drinking water. These electrospun chitosan-cellulose hybrid nanocomposites will provide active sites for reduction and introduction of Ag-MgO engineered nanomaterials that will be instrumental in imparting pathogen removal capacity. A component of this project is the formation and loading of various metal oxide nanoparticles on the biopolymer composites, testing their effectiveness in simultaneous defluoridation of the groundwater and pathogen removal. The U.S. partner on the project, Dr. James Smith, will contribute his expertise in nanomaterial synthesis, as well as his experience in pioneering the application of silver-coated ceramic water filters and ceramic tablets loaded with silver nanoparticles for water treatment in a rural community in South Africa.

This project should help to promotes equitable distribution and supply of water by improving access to clean, safe water for rural residents at an affordable cost. It should also lead to more efficient groundwater utilization as an option to satisfy the huge water demand of South Africa. Ultimately, access to safer water would also help to improve the health of rural communities, reducing the disease burden on the health infrastructure.


Summary of Recent Events

This project has come to an end. Design, synthesis, and testing through batch fluoride adsorption optimization conditions and application of impregnated engineered nanomaterials on a biopolymeric matrix using a sol-gel biosynthesis approach were carried out. The developed Biopolymeric nanocomposites sorbents have been evaluated and applied for its potential application in removing fluoride and pathogens from groundwater on a lab-scale. As part of the deliverable milestone, a technical report on this novel biopolymeric nanocomposites sorbents (W. B. Ayinde; W. M. Gitari; Samie Amidou; M. Munkombwe and James Smith (2019). Green Synthesis of AgMgOnHaP nanoparticles supported on Chitosan matrix: defluoridation and antibacterial effects in groundwater) have been submitted and currently under review in an international peer-reviewed journal (Springer Nature Environmental Science and Pollution Research: ESPR-D-19-02543 - ESPR).

In addition, as part of the deliverable, section of this project was also referred to in a conference Proceedings (1st International Conference on Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (ICSMNR 2018), Bolivia Lodge, Polokwane, Limpopo (South Africa) on 15 – 17 October 2018). Furthermore, as part of the outputs, a section of this project (Biosynthesis of Ag-MgO-nanohydroxyapatite impregnated across nanofibrous cellulose matrix for fluoride and bacterial removal in groundwater) was presented during the 2019 IUPAC Postgraduate Summer School on Green Chemistry in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 12th to 19th May 2019 managed by the IUPAC Inter-divisional Committee on Green Chemistry for Sustainable Development (ICGCSD).

Technical experimental protocols on fluoride and microbial removals from simulated contaminated solutions (on both Laboratory and field water-scale) with the biosynthesized adsorbent are in advanced stages. As part of the outputs, a section of this project (Gitari W. M, Mudzielwana R., Ayinde W. B, Mulaudzi L. Design of innovative groundwater treatment material in Rural Households) was presented during 3-day bilateral workshop on improving the quality of water and air "New frontiers in separation processes & membranes development", Johannesburg, July 17-19) was presented during 3-day bilateral workshop on improving the quality of water and air "New frontiers in separation processes & membranes development", Johannesburg, July 17-19.

Continuous technical experimental protocols on fluoride and microbial removals from simulated contaminated solutions (Laboratory and field scale) with the hybrid biosynthesized nanoparticles on the different biopolymeric matrix using sol-gel and in-situ biosynthesis approach are in advanced stages. Consultations and updates on the material developmental stages are ongoing and have been submitted with the University intellectual property office which is affiliated to the National Intellectual Property Organization (NIMPO), a government entity that funds patenting, technical evaluation of any prototype emanating from research work and potential commercialization.

The study has contributed the following to the body of knowledge:
  • Detailed surface modification/functionalization methods, as well as optimization of operating conditions, physicochemical, and morphological properties of the chitosan/cellulose/n-Hap/Ag-MgO nanocomposite towards pathogens removal and defluoridation in groundwater.
  • Performances of chitosan/cellulose/n-Hap/Ag-MgO as sorbent media for defluoridation and other heavy metals removal on a laboratory scale as a baseline of technical feasibility.
  • Optimized procedures for the regeneration of the F- loaded adsorbents and their reusability potential using chitosan/cellulose/n-Hap/Ag-MgO
  • The working principle, design, and surface effectiveness are projected to surpass traditional filtration systems towards antimicrobial property whereby bacterial and other pathogens could be destructively oxidized producing safe and clean potable water.
  • Design and operational parameters for Point-Of-Use household defluoridation unit using the chitosan/cellulose/n-Hap/Ag-MgO based adsorbents.


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