Design, Characterization, and Modeling of Microencapsulation Systems for Wastewater Testing and Wastewater Treatment

EPA Grant Number: F07A20345
Title: Design, Characterization, and Modeling of Microencapsulation Systems for Wastewater Testing and Wastewater Treatment
Investigators: Engler, Amanda C.
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2007 through January 1, 2010
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Wastewater Testing and Treatment , Water and Watersheds


Recent studies have found antibiotics, antidepressants, hormones, and various other drugs in both surface water and drinking water. There is evidence that some pharmaceuticals at these low concentrations can have negative effects on aquatic life. Currently, there are only a few water-testing methods available to assay these pollutants. There are some limitations to these methods: (1) the range of pharmaceuticals that can be detected and (2) the attainable detection levels. Additionally, trace amounts of these chemicals survive wastewater treatment and are released into the environment. This project will focus on developing microencapsulation systems, more specifically self-assembling micellar systems, for wastewater testing and treatment. More specifically, self assembling micellar systems will be designed such that they entrap the pollutant and can be separated from the water by either ultrafilitration or phase separation (cloud-point extraction). In addition, there will be a strong focus on developing experimental tools and modeling tools to overcome the limitations in water testing and water treatment, using these systems.


A polymeric micellar system that that will entrap selected model pharmaceuticals will be designed and tested on wastewater samples. Theoretical models will be used to aid in the design of the micellar system. Once the molecular level design work is complete, water testing schemes will be developed using these systems and an additional finishing step which utilizes the system will be developed for large-scale water purification.

Expected Results:

The anticipated result of this project is a microencapsulation scheme which will successfully trap and remove pharmaceuticals from wastewater before it is released into the environment.

Supplemental Keywords:

Pharmaceuticals, Water treatment, Water testing, Microencapsulation, Cloud-point extraction, Amphiphilic molecules, Ultrafiltration, Molecular modeling,, Scientific Discipline, Water, Wastewater, Environmental Monitoring, monitoring, pharmaceuticals, wastewater remediation, environmental engineering, municipal wastewater, municipal wastewater treatment, remediation, treatment, wastewater discharges, effluents, extraction

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final