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Title: Bacteria-mineral-nanoparticle interactions in water and wastewater
Author: Skuce, Rebecca L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 8648
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2015
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With a rising demand for nanomaterials and their continual increase in production, the release of nanoparticles (NPs) into the environment is inevitable (Petosa et al., 2010). Problematically, NPs can have a wide range of toxic effects, which are exacerbated by their size (at least one dimension smaller than 100 nm)(Engineering., 2004). Detrimental effects include brain, intestinal and respiratory injury, delayed embryonic development, DNA damage which ultimately lead to increased mortality (Trouiller et al., 2009), (Handy et al., 2008). Natural and manufactured NPs also have the ability to bind and transport chemical pollutants, thus enhancing their toxicity (Moore, 2006). While an array of techniques are available for in situ remediation of numerous groundwater contaminants, there are currently none for in situ remediation of nanoparticles. This fundamental technology gap means we are poorly prepared to deal with nanoparticle pollution events. The aim of this PhD was to develop mechanisms to immobilise and remove nanoparticles from water and waste water in order to prevent the transport of nanoparticles to sites where they have the potential to cause harm. Experiments conducted demonstrate the potential of microbially mediated mineral formation to immobilise nanoparticles from water. The ureolytic bacteria Sporosarcina pasteurii was used to induce calcium carbonate precipitation in batch and column experiments. Nanoparticle immobilisation was tested as a function of nanoparticle size and surface charge. The results demonstrate the successful immobilisation of negatively charged nanoparticles (both large and small, 150 and 35 nm respectively), while failing to remove positively charged nanoparticles from solution. In order to capture positively charged nanoparticles a second mineral, struvite, was tested. The precipitation of struvite successfully immobilised positively charged nanoparticles. However, in comparison to the calcite precipitation experiments the removal of positively charged nanoparticles was found to be pH and ionic strength dependant. Finally, the ability of Bacillus subtilis, a common groundwater bacterium and wastewater treatment biofilm to adsorb and remove nanoparticles from solution was examined. Here both biosorbent materials were highly efficient at removing positively charged nanoparticles from solution whilst negatively charged nanoparticles remained in suspension. The research presented here demonstrates that microbially induced mineral precipitation may be used as a tool to immobilise nanoparticles from contaminated groundwater. In addition, bacteria and wastewater treatment biofilm were found to be highly efficient biosorbents of positively charged nanoparticles. These findings hold implications for the fate and transport of nanoparticles through environmental systems and wastewater treatment plants.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QD Chemistry ; TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering