Microparticle Systems for the Removal of Organic Micropollutants

Microparticle Systems for the Removal of Organic Micropollutants
Patrick Doyle, Robert T. Haslam (1911) Professor of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering

Period of performance: 

September 2019 to August 2021
micropollutants, water, water pollution, runoff, clean water, hydrogel, filter, petrochemicals, pharmeceuticals, natural water, detection, contamination


Removing organic contaminants from water is a key environmental challenge.  Wastewater from industrial and agricultural processes often contain solvents, petrochemicals, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, hormones, and pesticides, which all can enter natural water systems.  While these micropollutants may be present at low concentrations, they can still have a significant negative impact on aquatic ecosystems as well as human health.   The challenge is in detecting and removing these micropollutants, because of the low concentrations in which they occur. 

For this project, researchers will develop a system to remove a variety of micropollutants, at even the smallest concentrations, using a special hydrogel particle that can be “tuned” to fit the size and shape of particular particles.  In addition to being highly selective, it is also a cleaner and more efficient filtration solution, as these hydrogels do not require the harsh conditions and cleaning chemicals that many existing filtration systems require.  Leveraging the flexibility of these hydrogels, this technology can improve the speed, precision, efficiency, and environmental sustainability of industrial water cleaning systems, and improve the health of the natural water systems upon which humans and our surrounding ecosystems rely.