Fresh water is a finite resource that is vulnerable to pollution.
Researchers from the University of Guelph (U of G) and scientists from the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) are developing energy-efficient strategies to purify polluted water.
“We looked at the purification of surface water, groundwater and wastewater,” said Erica Pensini, associate professor in the School of Engineering at the U of G. “We found that it was possible to use molecules that are both water-loving and oil-loving. to separate solvents from water.”
The team used the Mid-IR and Brockhouse beamlines to investigate the efficacy of their technique and visualize the way the molecules interact. Their findings were recently published in Physics of liquids.
“We can see little droplets starting to separate from the water and we can understand how those molecules assemble themselves and how they interact with each other,” Pensini says.
Climate change threatens the world’s fresh water supply. Pensini says the amount of water on the planet hasn’t changed, but the distribution of water has.
“We need to respond to the problem by minimizing water abstraction and making sure we don’t pollute the available water,” Pensini said. “The idea is to make sure we can treat water to conserve water.”
The energy-efficient technology developed by Pensini and its employees can be used as an intermediate step or in combination with other energy-efficient purification techniques.
Pensini says CLS beamlines and the expertise of beamline scientist Jarvis Stobbs were invaluable to her and her collaborators, who included Alejandro Marangoni (University of Guelph), Thamara Laredo (Lakehead University), and students Tatianna Marshall and Laura Earnden.
“With the CLS, I can see the purity of the droplets and I don’t have to add a dye that can interfere with self-assembly,” says Pensini. “It was very important not to change the samples at all.”
Laura Earnden et al, Mechanisms of separation between tetrahydrofuran and water using hydroxystearic acid, Physics of liquids (2022). DOI: 10.1063/5.0108008
Quote: Changing the structure of water as an energy-efficient method of removing pollutants (2022, Oct. 18) retrieved Oct. 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-low-energy-method-pollutants. html
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