Garaba, Shungudzemwoyo P.; Aitken, Jen; Slat, Boyan; Dierssen, Heidi M.; Lebreton, Laurent; Zielinski, Oliver; Reisser, Julia(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-09-25)[Article]
Here, we present a proof-of-concept on remote sensing of ocean plastics using airborne shortwave infrared (SWIR) imagery. We captured red, green, and blue (RGB) and hyperspectral SWIR imagery with equipment mounted on a C-130 aircraft surveying the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” at a height of 400 m and a speed of 140 knots. We recorded the position, size, color, and type (container, float, ghost net, rope, and unknown) of every plastic piece identified in the RGB mosaics. We then selected the top 30 largest items within each of our plastic type categories (0.6–6.8 m in length) to investigate SWIR spectral information obtained with a SASI-600 imager (950–2450 nm). Our analyses revealed unique SWIR spectral features common to plastics. The SWIR spectra obtained (N = 118 items) were quite similar both in magnitude and shape. Nonetheless, some spectral variability was observed, likely influenced by differences in the object optical properties, the level of water submersion, and an intervening atmosphere. Our simulations confirmed that the ∼1215 and ∼1732 nm absorption features have potential applications in detecting ocean plastics from spectral information. We explored the potential of SWIR remote sensing technology for detecting and quantifying ocean plastics, thus provide relevant information to those developing better monitoring solutions for ocean plastic pollution.
Logan, Bruce E.; Zikmund, Emily; Yang, Wulin; Rossi, Ruggero; Kim, Kyoung-Yeol; Saikaly, Pascal; Zhang, Fang(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-07-02)[Article]
Low solution conductivity is known to adversely impact power generation in microbial fuel cells (MFCs), but its impact on measured electrode potentials has often been neglected in the reporting of electrode potentials. While errors in the working electrode (typically the anode) are usually small, larger errors can result in reported counter electrode potentials (typically the cathode) due to large distances between the reference and working electrodes or the use of whole cell voltages to calculate counter electrode potentials. As shown here, inaccurate electrode potentials impact conclusions concerning factors limiting power production in MFCs at higher current densities. To demonstrate how the electrochemical measurements should be adjusted using the solution conductivity, electrode potentials were estimated in MFCs with brush anodes placed close to the cathode (1 cm) or with flat felt anodes placed further from the cathode (3 cm) to avoid oxygen crossover to the anodes. The errors in the cathode potential for MFCs with brush anodes reached 94 mV using acetate in a 50 mM phosphate buffer solution. With a felt anode and acetate, cathode potential errors increased to 394 mV. While brush anode MFCs produced much higher power densities than flat anode MFCs under these conditions, this better performance was shown primarily to result from electrode spacing following correction of electrode potentials. Brush anode potentials corrected for solution conductivity were the same for brushes set 1 or 3 cm from the cathode, although the range of current produced was different due to ohmic losses with the larger distance. These results demonstrate the critical importance of using corrected electrode potentials to understand factors limiting power production in MFCs.
Shi, Yusuf; Zhang, Chenlin; Li, Renyuan; Zhuo, Sifei; Jin, Yong; Shi, Le; Hong, Seunghyun; Chang, Jian; Ong, Chi Siang; Wang, Peng(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-09-17)[Article]
A sustainable supply of clean water is essential for the development of modern society, which has become increasingly dependent on desalination technology since 96.5% of the water on Earth is salt water. Thousands of desalination plants are producing massive waste brine as byproduct, and the direct discharge of brine raises serious concerns about its ecological impact. The concept of zero liquid discharge (ZLD) desalination is regarded as the solution, but the current ZLD technologies are hampered by their intensive use of energy and high cost. In this work, a 3D cup shaped solar evaporator was fabricated to achieve ZLD desalination with high energy efficiency via solar distillation. It produces solid salt as the only byproduct and uses sunlight as the only energy source. By rationally separating the light absorbing surface from the salt precipitation surface, the light absorption of the 3D solar evaporator is no longer affected by the salt crust layer as in conventional 2D solar evaporators. Therefore, it can be operated at an extremely high salt concentration of 25 wt % without noticeable water evaporation rate decay in at least 120 h. This new solar evaporator design concept offers a promising technology especially for high salinity brine treatment in desalination plants to achieve greener ZLD desalination as well as for hypersaline industrial wastewater treatment.
Aljassim, Nada I.; Mantilla Calderon, David; Scarascia, Giantommaso; Hong, Pei-Ying(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-11-20)[Article]
Bacteriophages active against a New Delhi metallo beta lactamase (NDM)-positive E. coli PI-7 were isolated from municipal wastewater and tested for their lytic effect against the bacterial host. Bacteriophages were highly specific to E. coli PI-7 when tested for host-range. After determining host-specificity, bacteriophages were tested for their ability to sensitize E. coli PI-7 to solar irradiation. Solar irradiation coupled with bacteriophages successfully reduced the length of the lag-phase for E. coli PI-7 from 4 h to 2 h in buffer solution. The reduction of lag-phase length was also observed in filtered wastewater effluent and chlorinated effluent. Previously, we found through gene expression analysis that cell wall, oxidative stress, and DNA repair functions played a large role in protecting E. coli PI-7 against solar damage. Here, gene expression analysis of bacteriophage-supplemented solar-irradiated E. coli PI-7 revealed downregulation of cell wall functions. Downregulation of functions implicated in scavenging and detoxifying reactive oxygen species, as well as DNA repair genes, was also observed in bacteriophage-supplemented solar-irradiated E. coli PI-7. Moreover, solar irradiation activates recA, which can induce lytic activity of bacteriophages. Overall, the combined treatment led to gene responses that appeared to make E. coli PI-7 more susceptible to solar disinfection and bacteriophage infection. Our findings suggest that bacteriophages show good potential to be used as a biocontrol tool to complement solar irradiation in mitigating the persistence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in reuse waters.
Li, Renyuan; Shi, Yusuf; Alsaedi, Mossab K.; Wu, Mengchun; Shi, Le; Wang, Peng(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-09-07)[Article]
The Earth’s atmosphere holds approximately 12,900 billion tons of fresh water and it distributes all over the world with fast replenishment. The atmospheric water harvesting is emerging as a promising strategy for clean water production in arid regions, land-locked, and remote communities. The water vapor sorbent is the key component for atmospheric water harvesting devices based on absorbing-releasing process. In this work, a flexible hybrid photothermal water sorbent composed of deliquescent salt and hydrogel was rationally fabricated. It possesses superior water sorption capacity even in low humidity air thanks to the deliquescent salt and it maintains a solid form after it sorbs a large amount of water owing to the hydrogel platform. The harvested water could be easily released under regular sunlight via the photothermal effect, and it can be directly reused without noticeable capacity fading. An “easy-to-assemble-at-household” prototype device with 35 g of the dry hydrogel was tested outdoors in field conditions and delivered 20 g of fresh water within 2.5 h under natural sunlight. It is estimated that the material cost of making such a device to supply minimum daily water consumption for an adult (i.e., 3 kg) is only $3.2 (USD). This type of atmospheric water generator (AWG) is cheap and affordable, perfectly works with a broad range of humidity, does not need any electricity, and thus is suitable especially for clean water production in remote areas.
Hou, Dianxun; Iddya, Arpita; Chen, Xi; Wang, Mengyuan; Zhang, Wenli; Ding, Yifu; Jassby, David; Ren, Zhiyong Jason(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-06-25)[Article]
Wastewater contains significant amounts of nitrogen that can be recovered and valorized as fertilizers and chemicals. This study presents a new membrane electrode coupled with microbial electrolysis that demonstrates very efficient ammonia recovery from synthetic centrate. The process utilizes the electrical potential across electrodes to drive NH4+ ions toward the hydrophilic nickel top layer on a gas-stripping membrane cathode, which takes advantage of surface pH increase to realize spontaneous NH3 production and separation. Compared with a control configuration with conventionally separated electrode and hydrophobic membrane, the integrated membrane electrode showed 40% higher NH3-N recovery rate (36.2 ± 1.2 gNH3-N/m2/d) and 11% higher current density. The energy consumption was 1.61 ± 0.03 kWh/kgNH3-N, which was 20% lower than the control and 70-90% more efficient than competing electrochemical nitrogen recovery processes (5-12 kWh/kgNH3-N). Besides, the negative potential on membrane electrode repelled negatively charged organics and microbes thus reduced fouling. In addition to describing the system's performance, we explored the underlying mechanisms governing the reactions, which confirmed the viability of this process for efficient wastewater-ammonia recovery. Furthermore, the nickel-based membrane electrode showed excellent water entry pressure (∼41 kPa) without leakage, which was much higher than that of PTFE/PDMS-based cathodes (∼1.8 kPa). The membrane electrode also showed superb flexibility (180° bend) and can be easily fabricated at low cost (<20 $/m2).
Li, Renyuan; Shi, Yusuf; Shi, Le; Alsaedi, Mossab K.; Wang, Peng(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-04-02)[Article]
Atmospheric water is abundant alternative water resource, equivalent to 6 times of water in all rivers on Earth. This work screens 14 common anhydrous and hydrated salt couples in terms of their physical and chemical stability, water vapor harvesting and release capacity under relevant application scenarios. Among the salts screened, copper chloride (CuCl2), copper sulfate (CuSO4) and magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) distinguish themselves and are further made into bi-layer water collection devices, with the top layer being photothermal layer while the bottom layer being salt-loaded fibrous membrane. The water collection devices are capable of capturing water vapor out of the air with low relative humidity (down to 15 %) and releasing water under regular and even weakened sunlight (i.e. 0.7 kW/m2). The work shines light on the potential use of anhydrous salt towards producing drinking water in water scarce regions.
Woo, Yun Chul; Kim, Youngjin; Yao, Minwei; Tijing, Leonard Demegilio; Choi, Juneseok; Lee, Sangho; Kim, Seunghyun; Shon, Hokyong(Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-02)[Article]
In this study, composite membranes were fabricated via layer-by-layer (LBL) assembly of negatively-charged silica aerogel (SiA) and 1H, 1H, 2H, 2H – Perfluorodecyltriethoxysilane (FTCS) on a polyvinylidene fluoride phase inversion membrane, and interconnecting them with positively-charged poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA) via electrostatic interaction. The results showed that the PDDA-SiA-FTCS coated membrane had significantly enhanced the membrane structure and properties. New trifluoromethyl and tetrafluoroethylene bonds appeared at the surface of the coated membrane, which led to lower surface free energy of the composite membrane. Additionally, the LBL membrane showed increased surface roughness. The improved structure and property gave the LBL membrane an omniphobic property, as indicated by its good wetting resistance. The membrane performed a stable air gap membrane distillation (AGMD) flux of 11.22 L/m2h with very high salt rejection using reverse osmosis brine from coal seam gas produced water as feed with the addition of up to 0.5 mM SDS solution. This performance was much better compared to those of the neat membrane. The present study suggests that the enhanced membrane properties with good omniphobicity via LBL assembly make the porous membranes suitable for long-term AGMD operation with stable permeation flux when treating challenging saline wastewater containing low surface tension organic contaminants.
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