Nanotechnology has revolutionized plethora of scientific and technological fields; environmental safety is no exception. One of the most promising and well-developed environmental applications of nanotechnology has been in water remediation and treatment where different nanomaterials can help purify water through different mechanisms including adsorption of heavy metals and other pollutants, removal and inactivation of pathogens and transformation of toxic materials into less toxic compounds. For this purpose, nanomaterials have been produced in different shapes, integrated into various composites and functionalized with active components. Nanomaterials have also been incorporated in nanostructured catalytic membranes which can in turn help enhance water treatment. In this article, we have provided a succinct review of the most common and popular nanomaterials (titania, carbon nanotubes (CNTs), zero-valent iron, dendrimers and silver nanomaterials) which are currently used in environmental remediation and particularly in water purification. The catalytic properties and functionalities of the mentioned materials have also been discussed.
A novel Ultrasonic Assisted Membrane Reduction (UAMR)-hydrothermal method was used to prepare flower-like Pt/CeO2 catalysts. The texture, physical/chemical properties, and reducibility of the flower-like Pt/CeO2 catalysts were characterized by X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), N2 adsorption, and hydrogen temperature programmed reduction (H2-TPR) techniques. The catalytic performance of the catalysts for treating automobile emission was studied relative to samples prepared by the conventional wetness impregnation method. The Pt/CeO2 catalysts fabricated by this novel method showed high specific surface area and metal dispersion, excellent three-way catalytic activity, and good thermal stability. The strong interaction between the Pt nanoparticles and CeO2 improved the thermal stability. The Ce4+ ions were incorporated into the surfactant chains and the Pt nanoparticles were stabilized through an exchange reaction of the surface hydroxyl groups. The SEM results demonstrated that the Pt/CeO2 catalysts had a typical three-dimensional (3D) hierarchical porous structure, which was favorable for surface reaction and enhanced the exposure degree of the Pt nanoparticles. In brief, the flower-like Pt/CeO2 catalysts prepared by UAMR-hydrothermal method exhibited a higher Pt metal dispersion, smaller particle size, better three-way catalytic activity, and improved thermal stability versus conventional materials.
The effective disposal of redundant tea waste is crucial to environmental protection and comprehensive utilization of trash resources. In this work, the removal of methyl orange (MO) from aqueous solution using spent tea leaves as the sorbent was investigated in a batch experiment. First, the effects of various parameters such as temperature, adsorption time, dose of spent tea leaves, and initial concentration of MO were investigated. Then, the response surface methodology (RSM), based on Box–Behnken design, was employed to obtain the optimum adsorption conditions. The optimal conditions could be obtained at an initial concentration of MO of 9.75 mg·L-1, temperature of 35.3°C, contact time of 63.8 min, and an adsorbent dosage 3.90 g·L-1. Under the optimized conditions, the maximal removal of MO was 58.2%. The results indicate that spent tea leaves could be used as an effective and economical adsorbent in the removal of MO from aqueous solution.
A mathematical model for the transport of Ce(IV) from hydrochloric acid solutions through dispersion flat combined liquid membrane (DFCLM) with contain 2-ethyl hexyl phosphonic acid-mono-2-ethyl hexyl ester (P507) as the carrier, dissolved in kerosene as the membrane solution have been studied. This process of facilitated transport, based on membrane technology, is a variation on the conventional technique of solvent extraction and may be described mathematically using Fick’s second law. The equations for transport velocity are derived considering the diffusion of P507 and its metallic complexes through the liquid membrane. In this work, the system is considered to be in a transient state, and chemical reaction between Ce(IV) and the carrier to take place only at the solvent–aqueous interfaces. Model concentration profiles are obtained for the Ce(IV), from which extraction velocities are predicted. The experimental and simulated Ce(IV) extractions showed similar tendencies for a high Ce(IV) concentration and acidity case.The model results indicate that high initial Ce(IV) concentrations and acidity both have detrimental effects on Ce(IV) extraction and stripping. The diffusion coefficient of Ce(IV) in the membrane and the thickness of diffusion layer between feed phase and membrane phase are obtained and the values are 6.31 × 10-8 m2·s-1 and 31.2 μm, respectively. The results are in good agreement with experimental results.
The complex capacity of different types of organic matters (OMs) for Cu was quantitatively studied by simulation experiments using different adsorbents prepared from the sediment in Taihu Lake. The free Cu was measured with ion selective electrode (ISE) and complex capacity was calculated using a conditional formation constant model. The result indicated that the complex capacity was 0.048 mmol·g-1, 0.009 and 0.005 mmol·g-1for raw sediment, sediment without DOM, sediment without insoluble organic matters but with DOM and sediment without OM. Insoluble organic matter played a major role in the sorption of Cu in sediment and it can adsorb most Cu from water column. In the solution, Cu mainly existed as a complex with DOM and the DOM-Cu complexation capacity was 327.87 mg·g-1. The change of TOC and pH indicated ion-exchange in the interaction between free Cu and DOM. When the Cu concentration in the experiment reached the complex capacity of DOM, precipitation was the major mechanism to remove Cu from water phase, which was observed from UV absorbance change of DOM, that is, its aromaticity increased while molecular weight decreased. The desorption result indicated that DOM was more capable of desorbing Cu from adsorbents without OM than adsorbent with OM. The desorbed quantity with DOM was 1.65, 1.78 and 2.25 times higher than that with water for adsorbents without OM, raw adsorbents (sediment) and adsorbents without DOM.
Six wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were investigated to evaluate the occurrence and removal of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), NDMA formation potential (FP) and four specific NDMA precursors, dimethylamine (DMA), trimethylamine (TMA), dimethylformamide (DMFA) and dimethylaminobenzene (DMAB). DMA and tertiary amines with DMA functional group commonly existed in municipal wastewater. Chemically enhanced primary process (CEPP) had no effect on removal of either NDMA or NDMA FP. In WWTPs with secondary treatment processes, considerable variability was observed in the removal of NDMA (19%–85%) and NDMA FP (16%–76%), moreover, there was no definite relationship between the removal of NDMA and NDMA FP. DMA was well removed in all the six surveyed WWTPs; its removal efficiency was greater than 97%. For the removal of tertiary amines, biologic treatment processes with nitrification and denitrification had better removal efficiency than conventional activated sludge process. The best removal efficiencies for TMA, DMFA and DMAB were 95%, 68% and 72%, respectively. CEPP could remove 73% of TMA, 23% of DMFA and 36% of DMAB. After UV disinfection, only 17% of NDMA was removed due to low dosage of UV was applied in WWTP. Although chlorination could reduce NDMA precursors, NDMA concentration was actually increased after chlorination.
Ferric oxyhydroxide loaded anion exchanger (FOAE) hybrid adsorbent was prepared by loading nanosized ferric oxyhydroxide (FO) on anion exchanger resin for the removal of phosphate from wastewater. TEM and XRD analysis confirmed the existence of FO on FOAE. After FO loading, the adsorption capacity of the hybrid adsorbent increased from 38.70 to 51.52 mg·g-1. Adsorption processes for both FOAE and anion resin were better fit to the pseudo first order model. Batch adsorption experiments revealed that higher temperature (313K), higher initial phosphate concentration (50 mg·L-1) and lower solution pH (pH value of 2) would be more propitious to phosphate adsorption. Competition effect of coexisting anions on phosphate removal can be concluded as sulfate>nitrate>chloride. Freundlich isotherm model can describe the adsorption of phosphate on FOAE more accurately, which indicated the heterogeneous adsorption occurred on the inner-surface of FOAE.
A multistep conversion system composed of phenol hydroxylase (PHIND) and 2,3-dihydroxy-biphenyl 1,2-dioxygenase (BphCLA-4) was used to synthesize methylcatechols and semialdehydes from o- and m-cresol for the first time. Docking studies displayed by PyMOL predicted that cresols and methylcatechols could be theoretically transformed by this multistep conversion system. High performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) analysis also indicated that the products formed from multistep conversion were the corresponding 3-methylcatechol, 4-methylcatechol, 2-hydroxy-3-methyl-6-oxohexa-2,4-dienoic acid (2-hydroxy-3-methyl-ODA) and 2-hydroxy-5-methyl-6-oxohexa-2,4-dienoic acid (2-hydroxy-5-methyl-ODA). The optimal cell concentrations of the recombinant E. coli strain BL21 (DE3) expressing phenol hydroxylase (PHIND) and 2,3-dihydroxy-biphenyl 1,2-dioxygenase (BphCLA-4) and pH for the multistep conversion of o- and m-cresol were 4.0 (g·L-1 cell dry weight) and pH 8.0, respectively. For the first step conversion, the formation rate of 3-methylcatechol (0.29 μmol·L-1·min-1·mg-1 cell dry weight) from o-cresol was similarly with that of methylcatechols (0.28 μmol·L-1·min-1·mg-1 cell dry weight) from m-cresol by strain PHIND. For the second step conversion, strain BphCLA-4 showed higher formation rate (0.83 μmol·L-1·min-1·mg-1 cell dry weight) for 2-hydroxy-3-methyl-ODA and 2-hydroxy-5-methyl-ODA from m-cresol, which was 1.1-fold higher than that for 2-hydroxy-3-methyl-ODA (0.77 μmol·L-1·min-1·mg-1cell dry weight) from o-cresol. The present study suggested the potential application of the multistep conversion system for the production of chemical synthons and high-value products.
The combination of low-dose ozone with ultraviolet (UV) irradiation should be an option to give benefit to disinfection and reduce drawbacks of UV and ozone disinfection. However, less is known about the disinfection performance of UV and ozone (UV/ozone) coexposure and sequential UV-followed-by-ozone (UV-ozone) and ozone-followed-by-UV (ozone-UV) exposures. In this study, inactivation of E. coli and bacteriophage MS2 by UV, ozone, UV/ozone coexposure, and sequential UV-ozone and ozone-UV exposures was investigated and compared. Synergistic effects of 0.5–0.9 log kill on E. coli inactivation, including increases in the rate and efficiency, were observed after the UV/ozone coexposure at ozone concentrations as low as 0.05 mg·L-1 in ultrapure water. The coexposure with 0.02-mg·L-1 ozone did not enhance the inactivation but repressed E. coli photoreactivation. Little enhancement on E. coli inactivation was found after the sequential UV-ozone or ozone-UV exposures. The synergistic effect on MS2 inactivation was less significant after the UV/ozone coexposure, and more significant after the sequential ozone-UV and UV-ozone exposures, which was 0.2 log kill for the former and 0.8 log kill for the latter two processes, at ozone dose of 0.1 mg·L-1 and UV dose of 8.55 mJ·cm-2 in ultrapure water. The synergistic effects on disinfection were also observed in tap water. These results show that the combination of UV and low-dose ozone is a promising technology for securing microbiological quality of water.
Toxic elements in the atmosphere can enter and accumulate in the human body, seriously impacting human health. In this study, we analyzed a 14-year (1995–2008) measurement of three toxic elements (As, Cd and Cr) in PM10 in Hong Kong, China. The pollution of these toxic elements in Hong Kong was not serious. The trend analysis showed that As and Cr in PM10 increased at a statistically significant level (p<0.05) during the 14-year period, while the Cd in PM10 did not change significantly. Typical seasonal variations were observed for all three toxic elements, largely in relation to the Asian monsoon. Hourly 10-day backward trajectories were computed and categorised into four groups. The continental air masses showed much higher concentrations of the three toxic elements than the marine air masses. The abundances of As and Cd in the PM10 were much higher in the continental air masses than those in the marine air masses, while the abundances of Cr showed an opposite pattern. The trends of the three toxic elements in East China’s air mass were consistent with those in the overall data set of Hong Kong. Examination of the toxic element data recorded at urban sites and a roadside site also indicated a large contribution of external air masses to particulate As and Cd in Hong Kong. These results suggest that the long-range transport from the mainland of China is the dominant contributor to particulate As and Cd, while both local and long-distance sources determine the particulate Cr in Hong Kong.
The concentrations of total phosphorus (TP) from 83 surface water sampling sites in 29 of the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN) monitored ecosystems, representing typical agro- and forest ecosystems, were assessed using monitoring data collected between 2004 and 2010 from still and flowing surface water. Results showed that, TP concentrations were significantly higher in agro-ecosystems than those in forest ecosystems both for still and flowing surface water. For agro-ecosystems, TP concentrations in the southern area were significantly higher than those in the northern and north-western areas for both still and flowing surface water, however no distinct spatial pattern was observed for forest ecosystems. In general, the median values of TP within agro- and forest ecosystems did not exceed the Class V guideline for still (0.2 mg·L-1) or flowing (0.4 mg·L-1) surface water, however, surface water at some agro-ecosystem sampling sites was frequently polluted by TP. Elevated concentrations were mainly found in still surface water at the Changshu, Fukang, Linze and Naiman monitored ecosystems, where exceedance (>0.2 mg·L-1) frequencies varied from 43% to 78%. For flowing water, elevated TP concentrations were found at the Hailun, Changshu and Shapotou monitored ecosystems, where exceedance (>0.4 mg·L-1) frequencies varied from 29% to 100%. Irrational fertilization, frequent irrigation and livestock manure input might be the main contributors of high TP concentrations in these areas, and reduced fertilizer applications, improvements in irrigation practices and centralized treatment of animal waste are necessary to control P loss in these TP vulnerable zones.
Crop residues are an important biomass, and are significant in the sustainable development of China. This paper uses the Grey-Markov modeling approach, the cost-benefit analysis method, and the constraint optimization method to establish the potential of crop residue recycling in China (CRRC) using a bottom-up analysis. Taking 2010 as the baseline year, the CRRC model is used to determine the quantity trends of crop residue resources, simulating the recycling potential and selecting key crop residue recycling technologies for operation between 2010 and 2030. The results illustrate that the total residue output from different crops will gradually increase to 1062 million tons in 2030. The proportion of crop residue for field burning is expected to decrease as a result of guidance and support from the government. Market mechanisms are also improving the development of the crop residue recycling industry. The economic benefit of crop residue recycling is expected to be worth 132 billion CNY in 2030 according to technology structure options. Key crop residue recycling technologies preferred such as liquefaction, amination, silo, co-firing straw power and composting will account for more than 85% of the total benefits.
The environmental burdens of Chinese copper production have been identified and quantified in the context of typical technologies, materials supplies and environmental emissions by a life cycle approach. Primary and secondary copper production using copper ores and scraps, respectively, were analyzed in detail. The flash and bath smelting approaches and the recycling of copper scraps were selected as representative copper production processes. A quantitative analysis was also conducted to assess the influence of material transport distance in copper production. Life cycle assessment (LCA) results showed that resources depletion and human health contribute significantly to environmental burdens in Chinese copper production. In addition, the secondary copper production has dramatically lower environmental burdens than the primary production. There is no obvious distinction in overall environmental burdens in primary copper production by flash or bath smelting approach. However, resources depletion is lower and the damage to human health is higher for flash smelting approach. Ecosystem quality damage is slight for both approaches. Environmental burdens from the mining stage contribute most in all life cycle stages in primary copper production. In secondary copper production, the electrolytic refining stage dominates. Based on the life cycle assessment results, some suggestions for improving environmental performance were proposed to meet the sustainable development of Chinese copper industry.
The N2O production in two nitrogen removal processes treating domestic wastewater was investigated in laboratory-scale aerobic-anoxic sequencing batch reactors (SBRs). Results showed that N2O emission happened in the aerobic phase rather than in the anoxic phase. During the aerobic phase, the nitrogen conversion to N2O gas was 27.7% and 36.8% of
A novel hybrid anaerobic-contact oxidation biofilm baffled reactor (HAOBR) was developed to simultaneously remove nitrogenous and carbonaceous organic pollutants from decentralized molasses wastewater in the study. The study was based on the inoculation of anaerobic granule sludge in anaerobic compartments and the installation of combination filler in aerobic compartments. The performance of reactor system was studied regarding the hydraulic retention time (HRT), microbial characteristics and the gas water ratio (GWR). When the HRT was 24h and the GWR was 20:1, total ammonia and chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the effluent were reduced by 99% and 91.8%, respectively. The reactor performed stably for treating decentralized molasses wastewater. The good performance of the reactor can be attributed to the high resistance of COD and hydraulic shock loads. In addition, the high solid retention time of contact oxidation biofilm contributed to stable performance of the reactor.
A typical river in Yangzhou City was used to study the effects of artificial aeration, eco-brick cover, biological packing cover, and low-sited plant floating beds on the release of heavy metals from urban river sediments. This work showed that 1) the Cr release rate was decreased by 50.3%–89.6%, with an average of 59.3%, thereby reducing the Cr pollution load to the overlying water by 36.6%–82.7%, with an average of 53.3%; 2) the Zn release rate was reduced by 21.0%–88.9%, with an average of 42.3%, and the Zn pollution load of the overlying water was reduced by 38.0%–67.1%, with an average of 55.0%; 3) the Cu release rate was reduced by 27.5%–91.0%, with an average of 55.3%, and the Cu load of the overlying water was reduced by 57.1%–83.7%, with an average of 71.7%; 4) the Pb release rate was reduced by 11.8%–79.3%, with an average of 41.2%, and the Pb pollution load of the overlying water was reduced by –1.3%–70.7%, with an average of 29.8%. We also found that the effects of in situ biological treatments on the release of heavy metals were affected by the extent of sediment disturbance. For integrated applications, high-disturbance treatments should be combined with low-disturbance treatments to reduce the explosive release of pollutants caused by sediment disturbance during the treatment operation to achieve better overall treatment effects.
As a tool for management, query, visualization and analysis of spatially referred information, GIS has been recognized as a method to aid the modeling of diffuse pollution and visualize the results in a spatial context. A common question in integrating diffuse pollution models and GIS is to choose a suitable coupling approach, in which the feature of diffuse pollution models should be taken into account. In this paper, we report on our experience in coupling a distributed diffuse pollution model with a GIS. A prototype of fully integrated system is developed in this paper. This system has high flexibility, extendibility and great data management efficiency. Differences in applicability of loose coupling, tight coupling and fully integrated approaches are addressed. It is concluded that the fully integrated approach can avoid tanglesome data exchange and routine execution and more robust than loose and tight coupling approaches and is suitable for distributed diffuse pollution modes.
A biocathode with microbial catalyst in place of a noble metal was successfully developed for hydrogen evolution in a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). The strategy for fast biocathode cultivation was demonstrated. An exoelectrogenic reaction was initially extended with an H2-full atmosphere to enrich H2-utilizing bacteria in a MEC bioanode. This bioanode was then inversely polarized with an applied voltage in a half-cell to enrich the hydrogen-evolving biocathode. The electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) kinetics of the biocathode MEC could be enhanced by increasing the bicarbonate buffer concentration from 0.05 mol·L-1 to 0.5 mol·L-1 and/or by decreasing the cathode potential from -0.9 V to -1.3 V vs. a saturated calomel electrode (SCE). Within the tested potential region in this study, the HER rate of the biocathode MEC was primarily influenced by the microbial catalytic capability. In addition, increasing bicarbonate concentration enhances the electric migration rate of proton carriers. As a consequence, more mass H+ can be released to accelerate the biocathode-catalyzed HER rate. A hydrogen production rate of 8.44 m3·m-3·d-1 with a current density of 951.6 A·m-3 was obtained using the biocathode MEC under a cathode potential of -1.3 V vs. SCE and 0.4 mol·L-1 bicarbonate. This study provided information on the optimization of hydrogen production in biocathode MEC and expanded the practical applications thereof.