Regulations on inorganic aqueous contaminants are becoming increasingly strict as research brings to light the negative impact of these contaminants on human health and the environment. Inorganic contaminants enter the environment from anthropogenic sources such as mining and industrial waste. The goal of our research is to develop a treatment process that both removes these inorganic contaminants while minimizing negative externalities associated with the process.
We are examining photocatalytic iron oxide nanoparticles as a possible treatment technology for these contaminants. The iron oxide nanoparticles are able to change the form of the contaminant for easier removal as well as remove the contaminant from solution. Furthermore, we are in the process of isolating and synthesizing iron oxide nanoparticles from mine waste, thereby closing industrial loops and turning mine waste into a value-added product.
Implications from this work extend into other materials research understanding, applications of water splitting and even in biomedical engineering where iron oxide nanoparticles are used extensively.