科研成果 PUBLICATIONS

2022
Ma R, Yan M, Han P, Wang T, Li B, Zhou S, Zheng T, Hu Y, Borthwick AGL, Zheng C, et al. Deficiency and excess of groundwater iodine and their health associations. Nature CommunicationsNature Communications [Internet]. 2022;13:7354. LinkAbstract
More than two billion people worldwide have suffered thyroid disorders from either iodine deficiency or excess. By creating the national map of groundwater iodine throughout China, we reveal the spatial responses of diverse health risks to iodine in continental groundwater. Greater non-carcinogenic risks relevant to lower iodine more likely occur in the areas of higher altitude, while those associated with high groundwater iodine are concentrated in the areas suffered from transgressions enhanced by land over-use and intensive anthropogenic overexploitation. The potential roles of groundwater iodine species are also explored: iodide might be associated with subclinical hypothyroidism particularly in higher iodine regions, whereas iodate impacts on thyroid risks in presence of universal salt iodization exhibit high uncertainties in lower iodine regions. This implies that accurate iodine supply depending on spatial heterogeneity and dietary iodine structure optimization are highly needed to mitigate thyroid risks in iodine-deficient and -excess areas globally.
Aggregation of varied organic coated magnetite nanoparticles: Adsorbed mass and thickness of coatings and interactions with natural organic matter
Liu J, Louie SM, Zhao J, Gao X, Hu Y*. Aggregation of varied organic coated magnetite nanoparticles: Adsorbed mass and thickness of coatings and interactions with natural organic matter. Science of The Total Environment [Internet]. 2022;831:154976. LinkAbstract
Magnetite nanoparticles (MNPs) with varied organic coatings (OCs) which improved their stability have broad environmental applications. However, the adsorbed amounts and layer thickness of varied OCs onto MNPs during the synthesis were generally not or poorly characterized, and their interactions with natural organic matter (NOM) were still in progress. In this study, acetic (HAc), citric (CA), and polyacrylic acid (PAA) were selected as model OCs, the adsorption behaviors of OCs on MNPs were characterized under varied aqueous C/Fe ratios, and the aggregation behaviors of MNPs with varied OCs (OC-MNPs) at neutral pH (7.0 ± 0.2) with NaCl (5–800 mM) in the presence/absence of NOM were systematically investigated. Under low aqueous C/Fe ratio, the adsorbed amounts of model OCs as –COOH/Fe ratio followed the order: CA ≈ PAA >> HAc. With high aqueous C/Fe ratio, the maximum adsorbed masses of OC-MNPs were similar. The adsorbed layer thicknesses of OC-MNPs were thoroughly characterized using three different methods, all showing that the adsorbed layer of PAA was thicker than that of CA and HAc. Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) and extended DLVO (EDLVO) calculations showed that electrostatic and van der Waals forces were dominant for CA-MNPs and HAc-MNPs stabilization; while steric repulsion played major roles in stabilizing PAA-MNPs, probably due to a thicker PAA layer. In the presence of NOM, stability behaviors of all OC-MNPs were similar, ascribing to the much greater amounts of NOM adsorbed than the OCs, causing greater steric repulsion. This study provides new mechanistic insights which could help better understand the effects of varied OCs on MNPs' colloidal stability.
Deng N, Zuo X, Stack AG, Lee SS, Zhou Z, Weber J, Hu Y*. Selenite and Selenate Sequestration during Coprecipitation with Barite: Insights from Mineralization Processes of Adsorption, Nucleation, and Growth. Environmental Science & Technology [Internet]. 2022;26:15518-15527. LinkAbstract
Coprecipitation of selenium oxyanions with barite is a facile way to sequester Se in the environments. However, the chemical composition of Se-barite coprecipitates usually deviates from that predicted from thermodynamic calculations. This discrepancy was resolved by considering variations in nucleation and growth rates controlled by ion–mineral interactions, solubility, and interfacial energy. For homogeneous precipitation, ∼10% of sulfate, higher than thermodynamic predictions (<0.3%), was substituted by Se(IV) or Se(VI) oxyanion, which was attributed to adsorption-induced entrapment during crystal growth. For heterogeneous precipitation, thiol- and carboxylic-based organic films, utilized as model interfaces to mimic the natural organic-abundant environments, further enhanced the sequestration of Se(VI) oxyanions (up to 41–92%) with barite. Such enhancement was kinetically driven by increased nucleation rates of selenate-rich barite having a lower interfacial energy than pure barite. In contrast, only small amounts of Se(IV) oxyanions (∼1%) were detected in heterogeneous coprecipitates mainly due to a lower saturation index of BaSeO3 and deprotonation degree of Se(IV) oxyanion at pH 5.6. These roles of nanoscale mineralization mechanisms observed during composition selection of Se-barite could mark important steps toward the remediation of contaminants through coprecipitation.
Lead phosphate deposition in porous media and implications for lead remediation
Zhao J, Mowla M, Pan Z, Bao D, Giammar DE, Hu Y*, Louie SM *. Lead phosphate deposition in porous media and implications for lead remediation. Water Research [Internet]. 2022;214:118200. LinkAbstract
Phosphate addition is commonly applied as an effective method to remediate lead contaminated sites via formation of low solubility lead phosphate solids. However, subsequent transport of the lead phosphate particles may impact the effectiveness of this remediation strategy. Hence, this study investigates the mechanisms involved in the aggregation of lead phosphate particles and their deposition in sand columns as a function of typical water chemistry parameters. Clean bed filtration theory was evaluated to predict the particle deposition behavior, using Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory to estimate particle-substrate interactions. The observed particle deposition was not predictable from the primary energy barrier in clean bed filtration models, even in simple monovalent background electrolyte (NaNO3), because weak deposition in a secondary energy minimum prevailed even at low ionic strength, and ripening occurred at ionic strengths of 12.5 mM or higher. For aged (aggregated) suspensions, straining also occurred at 12.5 mM or higher. Aggregation and deposition were further enhanced at low total P/Pb ratios (i.e., P/Pb = 1) and in the presence of divalent cations, such as Ca2+ (≥ 0.2 mM), which resulted in less negative particle surface potentials and weaker electrostatic repulsion forces. However, the presence of 5 mg C/L of humic acid induced strong steric or electrosteric repulsion, which hindered particle aggregation and deposition even in the presence of Ca2+. This study demonstrates the importance of myriad mechanisms in lead phosphate deposition and provides useful information for controlling water chemistry in phosphate applications for lead remediation.
Sulfate mineral scaling: From fundamental mechanisms to control strategies
Cao Z, Hu Y*, Zhao H, Cao B, Zhang P*. Sulfate mineral scaling: From fundamental mechanisms to control strategies. Water Research [Internet]. 2022;222:118945. LinkAbstract
Sulfate scaling, as insoluble inorganic sulfate deposits, can cause serious operational problems in various industries, such as blockage of membrane pores and subsurface media and impairment of equipment functionality. There is limited article to bridge sulfate formation mechanisms with field scaling control practice. This article reviews the molecular-level interfacial reactions and thermodynamic basis controlling homogeneous and heterogeneous sulfate mineral nucleation and growth through classical and non-classical pathways. Common sulfate scaling control strategies were also reviewed, including pretreatment, chemical inhibition and surface modification. Furthermore, efforts were made to link the fundamental theories with industrial scale control practices. Effects of common inhibitors on different steps of sulfate formation pathways (i.e., ion pair and cluster formation, nucleation, and growth) were thoroughly discussed. Surface modifications to industrial facilities and membrane units were clarified as controlling either the deposition of homogeneous precipitates or the heterogeneous nucleation. Future research directions in terms of optimizing sulfate chemical inhibitor design and improving surface modifications are also discussed. This article aims to keep the readers abreast of the latest development in mechanistic understanding and control strategies of sulfate scale formation and to bridge knowledge developed in interfacial chemistry with engineering practice.
2021
Coprecipitation of Fe/Cr Hydroxides with Organics: Roles of Organic Properties in Composition and Stability of the Coprecipitates
Deng N, Li Z, Zuo X, Chen J, Shakiba S, Louie SM, Rixey WG, Hu Y*. Coprecipitation of Fe/Cr Hydroxides with Organics: Roles of Organic Properties in Composition and Stability of the Coprecipitates. Environmental Science &Technology [Internet]. 2021;55:4638-4647. LinkAbstract
Iron hydroxides are important scavengers for dissolved chromium (Cr) via coprecipitation processes; however, the influences of organic matter (OM) on Cr sequestration in Fe/Cr-OM ternary systems and the stability of the coprecipitates are not well understood. Here, Fe/Cr-OM coprecipitation was conducted at pH 3, and Cr hydroxide was undersaturated. Acetic acid (HAc), poly(acrylic acid) (PAA), and Suwannee River natural organic matter (SRNOM) were selected as model OMs, which showed different complexation capabilities with Fe/Cr ions and Fe/Cr hydroxide particles. HAc had no significant effect on the coprecipitation, as the monodentate carboxyl ligand in HAc did not favor complexation with dissolved Fe/Cr ions or Fe/Cr hydroxide nanoparticles. Contrarily, PAA and SRNOM with polydentate carboxyl ligand had strong complexation with Fe/Cr ions and Fe/Cr hydroxide nanoparticles, leading to significant amounts of PAA/SRNOM sequestered in the coprecipitates, which caused the structural disorder and fast aggregation of the coprecipitates. In comparison with that of PAA, preferential complexation of Cr ions with SRNOM resulted in higher Cr/Fe ratios in the coprecipitates. This study advances the fundamental understanding of Fe/Cr-OM coprecipitation and mechanisms controlling the composition and stability of the coprecipitates, which is essential for successful Cr remediation and removal in both natural and engineered settings.
Mineral Scaling on Reverse Osmosis Membranes: Role of Mass, Orientation, and Crystallinity on Permeability
Wang M, Cao B, Hu Y*, Rodrigues DF*. Mineral Scaling on Reverse Osmosis Membranes: Role of Mass, Orientation, and Crystallinity on Permeability. Environmental Science & Technology [Internet]. 2021;55:16110-16119. LinkAbstract
Prior mineral scaling investigations mainly studied the effects of membrane surface properties rather than on the mineral properties and their impact on membrane permeability. In our study, mass, crystal growth orientation, and crystallinity of mineral precipitates on membranes, as well as their effects on membrane permeability have been investigated. Gypsum scaling tests on bare and bovine serum albumin (BSA)-conditioned membranes were conducted under different saturation indices. Results show that a longer scaling period was required for BSA-conditioned membranes to reach the same membrane permeate flux decline as bare membranes. Though the final reduced permeability was the same for both two membranes, the masses of the mineral precipitates on BSA-conditioned membranes were around two times more than those on bare membranes. Further mineral characterizations confirmed that different permeability decay rates of both types of the membrane were attributed to the differences in growth orientations rather than amounts of gypsum precipitates. Moreover, BSA-conditioned layers with high carboxylic density and specific molecular structure could stabilize bassanite and disrupt the oriented growth to inhibit the formation of needle-like gypsum crystals as observed on bare membranes, thus resulting in lower surface coverage with scales on membranes and alleviating the detrimental scaling effect on membrane permeability.
Polyacrylic acid-brushes tethered to graphene oxide membrane coating for scaling and biofouling mitigation on reverse osmosis membranes
Ansari A, Peña-Bahamonde J, Wang M, Shaffer DL, Hu Y*, Rodrigues DF*. Polyacrylic acid-brushes tethered to graphene oxide membrane coating for scaling and biofouling mitigation on reverse osmosis membranes. Journal of Membrane Science [Internet]. 2021;630:119308. LinkAbstract
Reverse osmosis (RO) membranes are prone to fouling, which increases the cost of operation and decreases water recovery. In this study, a commercial membrane (ESPA2) was coated with an antiscaling material, i.e. polyacrylic acid (PAA), and an antimicrobial material, i.e. graphene oxide (GO), to reduce biofouling and scaling. Bare and modified membranes with polydopamine (ESPA2-PD), as a control, GO (ESPA2-GO), GO and PAA (ESPA2-GO-PAA), and PAA (ESPA2-PAA) were tested for their antiscaling and antibiofouling properties. ESPA2-GO and ESPA2-GO-PAA had the best performance. The latter showed  15% and 10% increase in normalized water flux compared to ESPA2 in mineral scaling and biofouling tests, respectively. This improvement can be attributed to the decrease in surface charge and the increase in hydrophilicity of membrane surface by both GO and PAA coating. Moreover, the antimicrobial characteristic of GO played a crucial role in reducing biofouling and PAA slightly enhanced antiscaling property when coated on ESPA2 but it did not improve the antibiofouling property. These results highlight the importance of antimicrobial property of the coating for biofouling prevention and show antiscaling materials can be effective not only as an additive to the feed but also as a coating on the membrane to reduce scaling.
Pasteris JD*, Bae Y, Giammar DE, Dybing SN, Yoder CH, Zhao J, Hu Y. Worth a Closer Look: Raman Spectra of Lead-Pipe Scale. Minerals [Internet]. 2021;11. LinkAbstract
The identification and characterization of lead-bearing and associated minerals in scales on lead pipes are essential to understanding and predicting the mobilization of lead into drinking water. Despite its long-recognized usefulness in the unambiguous identification of crystalline and amorphous solids, distinguishing between polymorphic phases, and rapid and non-destructive analysis on the micrometer spatial scale, the Raman spectroscopy (RS) technique has been applied only occasionally in the analysis of scales in lead service lines (LSLs). This article illustrates multiple applications of RS not just for the identification of phases, but also compositional and structural characterization of scale materials in harvested lead pipes and experimental pipe-loop/recirculation systems. RS is shown to be a sensitive monitor of these characteristics through analyses on cross-sections of lead pipes, raw interior pipe walls, particulates captured in filters, and scrapings from pipes. RS proves to be especially sensitive to the state of crystallinity of scale phases (important to their solubility) and to the specific chemistry of phases precipitated upon the introduction of orthophosphate to the water system. It can be used effectively alone as well as in conjunction with more standard analytical techniques. By means of fiber-optic probes, RS has potential for in situ, real-time analysis within water-filled pipes.
2020
Alam MK, Niu C, Wang Y, Wang W, Li Y, Dai C, Tong T, Shan X, Charlson E, Pei S, et al. Large graphene-induced shift of surface-plasmon resonances of gold films: Effective-medium theory for atomically thin materials. Physical Review Research [Internet]. 2020;2:013008. LinkAbstract
espite successful modeling of graphene as a 0.34-nm-thick optical film synthesized by exfoliation or chemical vapor deposition (CVD), graphene-induced shift of surface-plasmon resonance (SPR) of gold films has remained controversial. Here we report the resolution of this controversy by developing a clean CVD graphene transfer method and extending Maxwell-Garnett effective-medium theory (EMT) to two-dimensional (2D) materials. A SPR shift of 0.24° is obtained and it agrees well with 2D EMT in which wrinkled graphene is treated as a 3-nm graphene/air layered composite, in agreement with the average roughness measured by atomic force microscopy. Because the anisotropic built-in boundary condition of 2D EMT is compatible with graphene's optical anisotropy, graphene can be modeled as a film thicker than 0.34 nm without changing its optical property; however, its actual roughness, i.e., effective thickness, will significantly alter its response to strong out-of-plane fields, leading to a larger SPR shift.
Microbially-induced mineral scaling in desalination conditions: Mechanisms and effects of commercial antiscalants
Ansari A, Peña-Bahamonde J, Fanourakis SK, Hu Y, Rodrigues DF*. Microbially-induced mineral scaling in desalination conditions: Mechanisms and effects of commercial antiscalants. Water Research [Internet]. 2020;179:115863. LinkAbstract
Reverse osmosis (RO) technology is promising in the sustainable production of fresh water. However, expansion of RO use has been hindered by membrane fouling, mainly inorganic fouling known as scaling. Although membrane mineral scaling by chemical means have been investigated extensively, mineral scaling triggered by microbial activity has been largely neglected. In this study, the simultaneous biomineralization of CaCO3 and CaSO4 in the presence of three different microbial communities from fresh water, wastewater, and seawater was investigated. In the presence of either 13 or 79 mM of Ca2+ and SO42- in the media, the fresh water microbial community produced calcite/vaterite and vaterite/gypsum, respectively; the wastewater community produced vaterite and vaterite/gypsum, respectively; and the seawater community produced aragonite in both conditions. The results showed that the concentration of salts and the microbial composition influence the types of precipitates produced. The mechanisms of crystal formation of CaCO3 and gypsum by these communities were also investigated by determining the need for metabolic active cells, the effect of a calcium channel blocker, and the presence of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). The results showed that metabolically active cells can lead to production of EPS and formation of Ca2+ gradient along the cells through calcium channels, which will trigger formation of biominerals. The prevention of biomineralization by these consortia was also investigated with two common polymeric RO antiscalants, i.e. polyacrylic acid (PAA) and polymaleic acid (PMA). Results showed that these antiscalants do not prevent the formation of the bio-precipitates suggesting that novel approaches to prevent biomineralization in RO systems still needs to be investigated.
Natural Organic Matter (NOM) Imparts Molecular-Weight-Dependent Steric Stabilization or Electrostatic Destabilization to Ferrihydrite Nanoparticles
Li Z, Shakiba S, Deng N, Chen J*, Louie SM *, Hu Y*. Natural Organic Matter (NOM) Imparts Molecular-Weight-Dependent Steric Stabilization or Electrostatic Destabilization to Ferrihydrite Nanoparticles. Environmental Science &amp;amp; Technology [Internet]. 2020;54:6761-6770. LinkAbstract
Ferrihydrite nanoparticles (Fh NPs) are ubiquitous in natural environments. However, their colloidal stability, and fate and transport behavior are difficult to predict in the presence of heterogeneous natural organic matter (NOM) mixtures. Here, we investigated the adsorption and aggregation behavior of Fh NPs exposed to NOM fractions with different molecular weights (MW). The NOM fraction with MW < 3 kDa destabilized the NPs, resulting in accelerated aggregation even at high C/Fe mass ratios, whereas higher MW NOM fractions imparted better colloidal stability with increasing MW and C/Fe ratio. Despite differences in the functional group composition of the bulk (dissolved) NOM fractions, all NOM fractions produced similar adsorbed layer compositions on the NPs, suggesting minimal contribution of chemical properties to the distinctive aggregation behavior. Rather, the higher adsorbed mass and larger size of the higher MW fractions were key factors in stabilizing the NPs through steric repulsion, whereas the lowest MW fraction had low adsorbed mass and was unable to counter electrostatic patch-charge attraction when the NPs are positively charged. This mechanistic understanding helps us predict the transport and fate of Fh NPs and the associated contaminants in natural environments with varying NOM compositions.
2019
Allen N, Dai C, Hu Y*, Kubicki JD, Kabengi N*. Adsorption Study of Al3+, Cr3+, and Mn2+ onto Quartz and Corundum using Flow Microcalorimetry, Quartz Crystal Microbalance, and Density Functional Theory. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry [Internet]. 2019;3:432-441. LinkAbstract
The adsorption of aqueous ions onto natural mineral surfaces controls numerous mineral–water interactions and is governed by, among other numerous factors, ion dehydration and hydrolysis. This work explored the extent to which dehydration and hydrolysis affect the adsorption of three metal cations, Al3+, Cr3+, and Mn2+, onto quartz (SiO2) and corundum (Al2O3) surfaces at pH 3.8 through the integration of flow microcalorimetry (FMC), quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) measurements and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. At pH 3.8, negligible amounts of Mn2+ and Al3+ are hydrolyzed, while 78% of Cr3+ exist in hydrolyzed species. QCM-D and FMC measurements showed that Al3+ and Cr3+ adsorb to both surfaces, while Mn2+ adsorbed only to Al2O3. DFT bond energy calculations confirmed the favorable bonding between the mineral surfaces and Al3+ and Cr3+, and that Mn2+ adsorption onto SiO2 was unfavorable. Furthermore, FMC showed that on both surfaces, the adsorption of Al3+ was endothermic and reversible, while that of Cr3+ was exothermic and partially irreversible. Through the integration of experimental and computational methods, this work suggested that the reversible adsorption of unhydrolyzed cations (Mn2+ and Al3+) occurred through weak electrostatic interactions. The large energy cost required to dehydrate unhydrolyzed cations resulted in an endothermic adsorption process. Meanwhile, hydrolyzed Cr3+ species can adsorb on quartz and corundum through covalent-bond formation, and thus, their adsorption was partially irreversible. Furthermore, the hydrolysis of Cr3+ lowered the dehydration energy during adsorption, resulting in an exothermic adsorption. By using bond energies as a guide to indicate the possibility of thermodynamically favored adsorption, there was a strong agreement between the DFT and experimental techniques. The findings presented here contribute to understanding and predicting various mineral–water interfacial processes in the natural environment.
Liu J, Louie SM, Pham C, Dai C, Liang D*, Hu Y*. Aggregation of ferrihydrite nanoparticles: Effects of pH, electrolytes,and organics. Environmental Research [Internet]. 2019;172:552-560. LinkAbstract
To better understand the fate and transport of ferrihydrite nanoparticles (FNPs), which carry many contaminants in natural and engineered aquatic environments, the aggregation of FNPs was systematically investigated in this study. The pH isoelectric point (pHIEP), surface zeta potential, and particle size evolutions of FNPs were measured under varied aqueous conditions using dynamic light scattering (DLS). The influence of pH (5.0 ± 0.1 and 7.0 ± 0.1), ionic strength (IS), electrolytes (NaCl, CaCl2 and Na2SO4), and organics (humic acid, fulvic acid and CH3COONa) on the aggregation behaviors of FNPs were explored. Meanwhile, Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory was employed to better understand the controlling mechanisms of FNP aggregation. In the presence of sulfate, the surface charge of FNPs was neutralized under varied pH and ionic strength due to ion adsorption and FNPs phase transformation to schwertmannite based on FT-IR results. This phase transformation resulted in rapid aggregation in all water chemistries tested, whereas other salt species affected the aggregation primarily by ion adsorption and charge screening. Presence of increasing concentrations of the organic acids significantly shifted the pHIEP of FNPs (7.0 ± 0.2) to lower pH (< 4.0) due to adsorption of organics on FNPs surfaces making them negatively charged. The adsorption of HA/FA inhibited FNP aggregation significantly while CH3COONa did not, due to different effects on steric and/or electrosteric interactions among FNPs by organics with varied pKa values and molecular weights. After accounting for the important effects of pH, electrolytes, and organics in modifying FNPs’ surface charge, DLVO calculations agreed well with measured critical coagulation concentrations (CCC) values of FNPs at both pH 5.0 ± 0.1 and 7.0 ± 0.1 in the presence of NaCl. This study will hence be useful to better predict and control the fate and transport of FNPs in the presence of electrolytes and organics with different molecular weights, as well as the fate of the associated contaminants in natural and engineered systems.
Fan S, Cao B, Deng N, Hu Y*, Li M*. Effects of ferrihydrite nanoparticle incorporation in cementitious materials on radioactive waste immobilization. Journal of Hazardous Materials [Internet]. 2019;379:120570. LinkAbstract
To enhance the long-term immobilization of radioactive wastes, ferrihydrite nanoparticles were incorporated into cementitious materials. The effects of ferrihydrite nanoparticles on the physicochemical and mechanical properties of cementitious materials and the immobilization of uranium (U), strontium (Sr) and cesium (Cs) were investigated. Adding ferrihydrite nanoparticles at 0.65%, 1.30%, 3.90% and 6.50% of cement weight slightly improved compressive strength by 5–11%, but dramatically reduced U leaching by 50–57%. The enhanced U immobilization was attributed to the strong adsorption of U by ferrihydrite nanoparticles, and the structural incorporation of U into hematite formed during ferrihydrite recrystallization. Although ferrihydrite nanoparticles had weaker effect than hematite nanoparticles on improving cement hydration and reducing permeability, they exhibit stronger U immobilization capacity. In contrast, incorporating ferrihydrite nanoparticles into cementitious materials had no significant effects on Cs and Sr leaching and no detectable adsorption of Sr and Cs. This study elucidated the fundamental differences in the interactions between ferrihydrite nanoparticles and U, Sr or Cs within cementitious systems that led to the distinctive immobilization mechanisms for these radionuclides. It generated new mechanistic understandings of U, Sr and Cs leaching from cementitious barriers modified by Fe-based nanoparticles, and proposed a new approach for enhancing long-term immobilization of U.
Isolation, identification and biodiversity of antiscalant degrading seawater bacteria using MALDI-TOF-MS and multivariate analysis
Ashfaq MY, Al-Ghouti MA*, Qiblawey H, Rodrigues DF, Hu Y, Zouari N. Isolation, identification and biodiversity of antiscalant degrading seawater bacteria using MALDI-TOF-MS and multivariate analysis. Science of The Total Environment [Internet]. 2019;656:910-920. LinkAbstract
Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) is a commonly used desalination technique owing to its lesser environmental and economic impacts as compared to thermal desalination techniques. Antiscalants are used in SWRO to reduce membrane scaling caused by the supersaturation of salts present in feed water. However, to remain effective in reducing membrane scaling, antiscalants should be highly stable and resistant to biological degradation by seawater microorganisms. In this research, several bacteria from Qatar's seawater were isolated and screened for their ability to use antiscalants as a carbon and energy source. The biodiversity of antiscalant degrading seawater bacteria was demonstrated through combining the techniques of MALDI-TOF MS and principle component analysis. It was found that the bacteria isolated from Qatar's seawater such as H. aquamarina, H. elongata, P. fragi, P. stutzeri and others can degrade antiscalants and use them as a carbon and energy source. It was observed that the growth rates varied based on the type of antiscalant and the bacteria used. Among the tested strains, H. aquamarina, which is also known for its potential to cause biofouling, demonstrated the highest growth rates in antiscalants media. Thus, it was concluded that there is wide variety of bacteria in Qatar's seawater that can biodegrade the antiscalants; reducing their efficiency to combat membrane scaling. Since, these antiscalants will be used as a source of carbon and energy, microbial growth will increase resulting in enhanced membrane biofouling in SWRO.
Guo X, Fan S, Hu Y, Fu X, Shao H, Zhou Q*. A novel membrane biofouling mitigation strategy of D-amino acid supported by polydopamine and halloysite nanotube. Journal of Membrane Science [Internet]. 2019;579:131-140. LinkAbstract
D-amino acid (DAA) an environmentally friendly biofilm inhibitor, has low efficiency for membrane biofouling control due to its instability. To address this challenge, a novel nanocomposite was prepared with DAA adhering to polydopamine (PDA)-coated halloysite nanotube (HNTs) through the interactions of H-bonding and π-π stacking between PDA and DAA. Membrane modified with such nanocomposite was fabricated via blending phase inversion, and the nanocomposite was uniformly distributed in the modified membrane matrix. In comparison with the pristine membrane, the addition of nanocomposites resulted in robust mechanical property for modified membrane with the ultimate stress and strain increased by 23.97% and 35.62%, respectively. Moreover, an excellent tradeoff between water flux (2.5 folds of pristine membrane) and selectivity was achieved, probably due to the improved membrane hydrophilicity. Meanwhile, bovine serum protein (BSA) static adsorption as well as dynamic filtration experiments exhibited excellent antifouling ability of the modified membrane. Most importantly, a superior anti-biofouling stability over a 10-day period was obtained for the membrane modified with nanocomposite, indicating that the activity of DAA to mitigate biofouling was effectively maintained. This study developed a novel and promising strategy for membrane biofouling mitigation.
Deng N, Stack AG, Weber J, Cao B, Yoreo JDJ, Hu Y*. Organic-mineral interfacial chemistry drives heterogeneous nucleation of Sr-rich (Bax, Sr1-x)SO4 from undersaturated solution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2019;116:13221-13226. LinkAbstract
Sr-bearing marine barite [(Bax, Sr1−x)SO4] cycling has been widely used to reconstruct geochemical evolutions of paleoenvironments. However, an understanding of barite precipitation in the ocean, which is globally undersaturated with respect to barite, is missing. Moreover, the reason for the occurrence of higher Sr content in marine barites than expected for classical crystal growth processes remains unknown. Field data analyses suggested that organic molecules may regulate the formation and composition of marine barites; however, the specific organic–mineral interactions are unclear. Using in situ grazing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS), size and total volume evolutions of barite precipitates on organic films were characterized. The results show that barite forms on organic films from undersaturated solutions. Moreover, from a single supersaturated solution with respect to barite, Sr-rich barite nanoparticles formed on organics, while micrometer-size Sr-poor barites formed in bulk solutions. Ion adsorption experiments showed that organic films can enrich cation concentrations in the adjacent solution, thus increasing the local supersaturation and promoting barite nucleation on organic films, even when the bulk solution was undersaturated. The Sr enrichment in barites formed on organic films was found to be controlled by solid-solution nucleation rates; instead, the Sr-poor barite formation in bulk solution was found to be controlled by solid-solution growth rates. This study provides a mechanistic explanation for Sr-rich marine barite formation and offers insights for understanding and controlling the compositions of solid solutions by separately tuning their nucleation and growth rates via the unique chemistry of solution–organic interfaces.
Ashfaq MY, Al-Ghouti* MA, Qiblawey H, Zouari N, Rodrigues DF, Hu Y. Use of DPSIR Framework to Analyze Water Resources in Qatar and Overview of Reverse Osmosis as an Environment Friendly Technology. Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy [Internet]. 2019;38:13081. LinkAbstract
Qatar and other countries of Gulf Cooperation Council are among the most water scarce countries in the world and are being characterized as “high-water risk” countries by Water Resource Institute. Therefore, it is important to implement sustainable water resource management that encompass economic, societal, and environmental aspects. In this review article, the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response framework was used to analyze the water resource system in Qatar in terms of drivers, pressures, change in state, impacts, and responses. It was noted that both economic and population growth together with unsustainable water consumption are major driving forces that are pressurizing the Qatar's water resources (desalinated seawater and renewable groundwater). Currently, desalination plants using Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) techniques are predominantly being used to meet the rising water demands. However, widespread use of MSF techniques poses several environmental and economic impacts. Therefore, in addition to other management and corrective measures, reverse osmosis (RO) technique has also been suggested to be utilized in desalination industry as a “response” to mitigate those impacts. Since, the performance of RO is mainly affected by biofouling and mineral scaling, the paper also highlights the recent materials (polymers and nano-materials) used to tackle these problems. © 2018 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 38:e13081, 2019
2018
Liu J, Dai C, Hu Y*. Aqueous aggregation behavior of citric acid coated magnetite nanoparticles: Effects of pH, cations, anions, and humic acid. Environmental Research [Internet]. 2018;161:49-60. LinkAbstract
Improving the colloidal stability of magnetite nanoparticles (MNPs) is essential for their successful applications. In this study, the surface zeta potential and particle size evolutions of citric acid coated magnetite nanoparticles (CA-MNPs) were measured under varied aqueous conditions using dynamic light scattering (DLS). The effects of pH (5.0–9.0), ionic strength (IS), cations (Na+ and Ca2+), anions (phosphate, sulfate, and chloride) and humic acid on the aggregation behaviors of CA-MNPs were explored. Compared with bare MNPs, the stability of CA-MNPs were greatly improved over the typical pH range of natural aquatic environments (pH = 5.0–9.0), as the coated CA-MNPs were highly negatively charged over the pH range due to the low pKa1 value (3.13) of citrate acid. CA-MNPs were more stable in the presence of monovalent cation (Na+) compared with divalent cation (Ca2+), as Ca2+ could neutralize the surface charge of MNPs more significantly than Na+. In the presence of anions, the surface charges of CA-MNPs became more negative, and the stability of CA-MNPs followed the order: in phosphate > sulfate > chloride. The observed aggregation trend could be explained by the differences in the valences of the anions and their adsorption behaviors onto CA-MNPs, which altered the surface charges of CA-MNPs. The measured critical coagulation concentrations (CCC) values of CA-MNPs in these electrolyte solutions agreed well with Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) calculations. With the addition of Humic acid (HA), the aggregation of CA-MNPs was inhibited in all electrolyte solutions even with the critical coagulation concentrations. This is due to the adsorption of HA onto CA-MNPs, which enhanced the electrostatic and steric repulsive forces between CA-MNPs. Considering the good stability of CA-MNPs in solutions with varied pH and electrolyte compositions, as well as with the easy synthesis of CA-MNPs and their non-toxicity, this study suggested CA coating as a good strategy to increase the stability of MNPs.

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