Abel E. Navarro
New York University, USA
Abel working as a professor from University of New York, USA
The growth of mining and manufacture processes causes the discharge of more contaminants in our environment. Water is, perhaps, the most damaged resource as it is essential for the functioning of industries. Amongst the most important pollutants: heavy metals, dyes and polycyclic organic compounds are listed as the top contaminants and are considered of environmental priority for their impact in human health and conservation of the ecosystem. Conventional decontaminating techniques such as activated carbon, filtration, activated sludge and others are used to remove these pollutants. However, the poor selectivity and/or the high cost of these techniques make them not applicable in all circumstances and even worse in developing countries that have other priorities. Therefore, the need of alternative and cost-efficient decontaminating methodologies is a scientific concern. Bioremediation is a field of biotechnology that uses naturally-occurring materials for the decontamination of soils, air and waters. In this opportunity, the use of domestic waste is proposed as new and economical alternatives for the removal of pollutants from wastewaters. These materials include spent teabags, fruit peels, seaweed, and corncobs. The presence of high affinity chemical groups makes possible the adsorption of pollutants on their surface. The development of new adsorbents involves the study of equilibrium parameters like optimum time, acidity, mass of adsorbent, maximum amount of pollutant, and salinity. Desorption is also a crucial study because the success of an adsorbent resides on its recycling and sequential use and recovery of the pollutant for a better disposal. The long-term goal is the chemical modification of these natural adsorbents, yet economical, by the incorporation of chemical groups that increase their affinity towards certain pollutants. Formation of gel beads to increase their porosity is also a go-to challenge. These changes can be explored by instrumental techniques such as potentiometry, thermogravimetric analysis, spectroscopy and electron microscopy. This research will lead us to competitive adsorbents that can become an alternative of the expensive exchange resins and activated carbon for a greener planet at low costs.