Researchers Studying Possibility Of Using Gold-Coated Nickel Plates To Remove Harmful Algal Blooms In Water

In Education

Recent research from Florida proposes that gold could offer a solution for improving access to clean drinking water globally, addressing the issue of inadequate access in various regions worldwide.

Gold-coated nickel plates eliminate microcystins

Researchers at the University of Central Florida are investigating the potential of utilizing gold to develop a new method for eliminating harmful algal blooms (HABs) in drinking water. These blooms, characterized by the excessive growth of algae colonies, pose threats to human health and aquatic life.

The project is backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 program, granting $1.2 million to 16 college teams nationwide. UCF secured $75,000 for a two-year initiative to create a gold-coated nickel metal-organic framework (MOF) to eliminate microcystins (toxic substances from harmful algae) in water. MOFs are versatile metal polymer clusters with various uses.

A group of students from UCF, comprising Samuel Adjei-Nimoh, Nimanyu Joshi, Jennifer Hughes, and Julia Going, along with professors Woo Hyoung Lee and Yang Yang, are conducting research in environmental engineering and materials science.

Gold-coated nickel MOF reacts with sunlight to eliminate pollutants

Prof. Lee highlights the versatility of MOFs as catalysts in various fields including hydrogen storage, carbon capture, and drug delivery. The new project involves coating gold in an MOF to enhance its reaction to sunlight, a process known as photocatalysis, which leads to the oxidation of microcystins, thus purifying water.

Microcystins, prevalent cyanotoxins associated with harmful algal blooms in freshwater environments like Florida’s lakes, pose health risks including liver damage, kidney failure, and gastroenteritis. A novel solution by the UCF team aims to enhance water treatment for safer drinking water.

Professor Lee emphasized the importance of clean drinking water, especially for Floridians dependent on local water sources. Utilizing nanotechnology for water treatment not only eliminates toxins but also protects community health, promising a healthier future for everyone.

According to Chris Frey, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development, the projects funded by the P3 program will address growing concerns that include PFAS removal from water which will combat harmful algal blooms and materials reuse.

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