Final Report: Nanostructured Materials for Environmental Decontamination of Chlorinated Compounds

EPA Grant Number: GR832374
Title: Nanostructured Materials for Environmental Decontamination of Chlorinated Compounds
Investigators: Lu, Yunfeng , John, Vijay T.
Institution: Tulane University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 2005 through July 31, 2008 (Extended to July 31, 2009)
Project Amount: $320,000
RFA: Greater Research Opportunities: Research in Nanoscale Science Engineering and Technology (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Nanotechnology , Safer Chemicals


Our research was directed towards the design of multifunctional particles that are effective in the remediation of chlorinated hydrocarbons such as trichloroethylene (TCE). These hydrocarbons form a class of dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) contaminants in groundwater and soil that are difficult to remediate. They have a density greater than water and settle deep into the sediment from which they gradually leach out into aquifers causing long term environmental pollution.

Our objective was to fully develop a new in-situ method for the remediation of DNAPLs. The novelty of the proposed research is the use of easily synthesized, carbon microspheres, prepared from inexpensive precursors such as common sugars and polysaccharides through an aerosol process. These microspheres are in the size range for optimal transport and can be designed to host zerovalent iron nanoparticles. The characteristics of adsorption, reaction, transport and interfacial partitioning relevant to the problem of TCE remediation will be studied in this system.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

The investigators have developed multifunctional particles that involve important elements of a successful technology to remediate TCE.

The following are key aspects of the technology that distinguish it from other existing technologies:

  1. Relatively fast reaction without the addition of Pd.
  2. Particle sizes are in the size range for optimal mobility through sediments.
  3. The use of carbons in the technology allows us to soak up solution TCE and bring the contaminants to the site of ZVI.
  4. The carbons can be stabilized in solution through the addition of CMC
  5. The particles may be designed with sufficient hydrophobicity to partition to bulk TCE phases.
  6. The particles are inexpensive and should be environmentally innocuous.
  7. The materials may be easily translated into reaction barrier technologies.


The next step of the research will be to conduct field tests to confirm validity of the technology. The technology has proven fully feasible on a lab scale.

Recognitions of our work

  1. In 2008, Jingjing Zhan won 2nd Place for the Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award given by the Environmental Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
  2. In 2009, Bhanu Sunkara won 1st Place in the same competition. The Award was given at the Annual Meeting of the AIChE on November 10, in Nashville, TN.
  3. Lynn Le, an undergraduate student won the AIChE Southeastern Region Student Conference Award for the Best Paper in April 2009. She received an honorable mention at the National AIChE conference.
  4. The co-PI, Vijay John, gave keynote lectures on this research at the ACS Conference in Colloids and Surface Science, July 2009 in New York, and at the ACS Annual Meeting in August in Washington DC. He also has given a seminar at EPA offices in Washington, DC, and is working with the EPA to establish liaisons with EPA laboratories (Cincinnati) and with EPA contractors to go to the next step of field testing.
  5. We have received additional funding for this work from the National Science Foundation (NSF) (funding for Technology II). Although the EPA grant is completed, the NSF grant started on July 15, 2009, and will be used to leverage our efforts.

Journal Articles on this Report : 5 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 26 publications 7 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Sunkara B, Zhan J, He J, McPherson GL, Piringer G, John VT. Nanoscale zerovalent iron supported on uniform carbon microspheres for the in situ remediation of chlorinated hydrocarbons. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2010;2(10):2854-2862. GR832374 (Final)
  • Abstract: American Chemical Society
  • Journal Article Zhan J, Zheng T, Piringer G, Day C, McPherson GL, Lu Y, Papadopoulos K, John VT. Transport characteristics of nanoscale functional zerovalent iron/silica composites for in situ remediation of trichloroethylene. Environmental Science & Technology 2008;42(23):8871-8876. GR832374 (2008)
    GR832374 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: ACS Publications-Abstract
  • Journal Article Zhan J, Sunkara B, Le L, John VT, He J, McPherson GL, Piringer G, Lu Y. Multifunctional colloidal particles for in situ remediation of chlorinated hydrocarbons. Environmental Science & Technology 2009;43(22):8616-8621. GR832374 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: Environmental Science & Technology-Abstract
  • Journal Article Zheng T, Pang J, Tan G, He J, McPherson GL, Lu Y, John VT, Zhan J. Surfactant templating effects on the encapsulation of iron oxide nanoparticles within silica microspheres. Langmuir 2007;23(9):5143-5147. GR832374 (2006)
    GR832374 (2008)
    GR832374 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: ACS Publications-Abstract
  • Journal Article Zheng T, Zhan J, He J, Day C, Lu Y, McPherson GL, Piringer G, John VT. Reactivity characteristics of nanoscale zerovalent iron–silica composites for trichloroethylene remediation. Environmental Science & Technology 2008;42(12):4494-4499. GR832374 (2008)
    GR832374 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: ACS Publications-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Sustainable Industry/Business, Remediation, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Restoration, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Analytical Chemistry, New/Innovative technologies, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, in situ remediation, DNAPL, remediation technologies, nanotechnology, environmental sustainability, catalysts, reductive degradation of hazardous organics, zero valent iron nanoparticles, environmentally applicable nanoparticles, aquifer remediation design, groundwater remediation, degradation rates, reductive dechlorination, hazardous organics, groundwater contamination, innovative technologies, pollution prevention, contaminated aquifers, reductive detoxification, groundwater, groundwater pollution

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007
  • 2008 Progress Report