Evaluating a New Class of Imprinted Sorbent Materials for Toxic Metals Removal

EPA Grant Number: R828163
Title: Evaluating a New Class of Imprinted Sorbent Materials for Toxic Metals Removal
Investigators: Sengupta, Arup K. , Miller, Alfred
Institution: Lehigh University
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2002
Project Amount: $193,000
RFA: Exploratory Research - Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics) (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Water , Land and Waste Management , Air


The need for a selective yet cost-effective heavy metal sorbent is well recognized in view of the nation's diverse heavy metal contamination problems pertaining to groundwater, landfill leachates, acid mine drainage and industrial wastewaters. The ongoing research efforts at Lehigh University have led to the development of an innovative technique to produce a new class of imprinted hybrid and inorganic sorbent materials. The new sorbent materials, thus prepared, have shown unusually high selectivity toward Zn2+ and Arsenic(V) oxyanion. Equally important, the new materials are durable and amenable to efficient regeneration.


The imprinted sorbent is essentially templated colloid-like hydrated iron oxide or ferrihydrite particles dispersed in an inexpensive polymer or fused into granular forms after a simple thermal treatment. During the imprinting process, the binding sites of ferrihydrite and the imprint metal ions, develop a complementary recognition (stereo-selectivity). Consequently, the imprinted sorbent can very selectively capture the target metal ion over a wide range of pH and in the presence of other competing solutes.

Expected Results:

The specific objectives of the study are to:

  • Refine the synthesis process and characterize the binding energy of the target ions onto imprinted sorbent particles using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS);
  • Evaluate and benchmark the metals sorption properties of the imprinted materials against both unimprinted and commercially available polymeric ion exchangers;
  • Investigate the long-term durability and the efficiency of regeneration.
The preparation of imprinted material is environmentally benign and does not involve any regulated chemicals. Besides application in fixed-bed processes, the new materials may also be used as sub-surface barriers and for industrial separation leading to pollution prevention.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 16 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Waste, Water, TREATMENT/CONTROL, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, National Recommended Water Quality, Environmental Chemistry, Wastewater, Treatment Technologies, Chemistry, Chemicals, Groundwater remediation, Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, heavy metal recovery, industrial wastewater, acid mine drainage, arsenic removal, sorbents, water quality, iron oxide ferrihydrite particles, arsenic, heavy metals

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001 Progress Report
  • Final Report