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Visible and Ultraviolet Light Side-Emitting Optical Fibers Enable Water Purification

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Light-driven reactions can replace chemical and material consumption of advanced water treatment technologies. A barrier to light-driven water treatment is optical obstructions in aquafers (i.e. granular media) or built infrastructures

Light-driven reactions can replace chemical and material consumption of advanced water treatment technologies. A barrier to light-driven water treatment is optical obstructions in aquafers (i.e. granular media) or built infrastructures (i.e. tubing) that limits light propagation from a single source such as the sun, or lamps. Side emitting optical fibers (SEOFs) can increase light distribution by > 1000 X from one-point source, but absorbance of UV light by conventional optical fibers limits their application to visible light only.

This dissertation assessed how SEOFs can enable visible through ultraviolet light-driven processes to purify water. I first used an existing visible light polymer SEOF and phototrophic organisms to increase the dissolved oxygen level of a granular sand reactor to > 15 mg DO/L. The results indicated that SEOFs successfully guide light past optical obstructions for environmental remediation which encouraged the fabrication of UV-C SEOFs for microbial inactivation.

I was the first to obtain consecutive UV-C side emission from optical fibers by placing nanoparticles on the surface of a UV transmitting glass core. The nanoparticles induced side-emission via Mie scattering and interactions with the evanescent wave. The side emission intensity was modulated by tuning the separation distance between the nanoparticle and fiber surface. Coating the fiber with a UV-C transparent polymer offered the optical fiber flexibility and prevented nanoparticle release into solution. One SEOF coupled to a 265 nm LED achieved 3-log inactivation of E. coli. Finally, a method was developed to quantify the zone of inhibition obtained by a low flux output source. By placing a SEOF connected to a UV-C LED over a nutrient-rich LB agar plate, I illustrated that one SEOF inhibited the growth of P. aeruginosa and E. coli within 2.8 cm along the fiber’s length. Ultimately this research informed that side-emitting optical fibers can enable light-driven water purification by guiding and distributing specific wavelengths of light directly to the microbial communities of interest.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Treatment of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Semiconductor Wastewaters

Description

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are anthropogenic chemicals used for a wide variety of products and industrial processes, including being an essential class of chemicals in the fabrication of semiconductors.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are anthropogenic chemicals used for a wide variety of products and industrial processes, including being an essential class of chemicals in the fabrication of semiconductors. Proven concerns related to bioaccumulation and toxicity across multiple species have resulted in health advisory and regulatory initiatives for PFAS in drinking and wastewaters. Among impacted users of PFAS, the semiconductor industry is in urgent need of technologies to remove PFAS from water. Specifically, they prefer technologies capable of mineralizing PFAS into inorganic fluoride (F-). The goal of this thesis is to compare the effectiveness of photo- versus electrocatalytic treatment in benchtop reactor systems PFAS in industrial wastewater before selecting one technology to investigate comprehensively. First, a model wastewater was developed based upon semiconductor samples to represent water matrices near where PFAS are used and the aggregate Fab effluent, which were then used in batch catalytic experiments. Second, batch experiments with homogenous photocatalysis (UV/SO32-) were found to be more energy-intensive than heterogeneous catalysis using boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrodes, and the latter approach was then studied in-depth.
During electrocatalysis, longer chain PFAS (C8; PFOA & PFOS) were observed to degrade faster than C6 and C4 PFAS. This study is the first to report near-complete defluorination of not only C8- and C6- PFAS, but also C4-PFAS, in model wastewaters using BDD electrocatalysis, and the first to report such degradation in real Fab wastewater effluents. Based upon differences in PFAS degradation rates observed in single-solute systems containing only C4 PFAS versus multi-solute systems including C4, C6, and C8 PFAS, it was concluded that the surfactant properties of the longer-chain PFAS created surface films on the BDD electrode surface which synergistically enhanced removal of shorter-chain PFAS. The results from batch experiments that serve as the basis of this thesis will be used to assess the chemical byproducts and their associated bioaccumulation and toxicity. This thesis was aimed at developing an efficient method for the degradation of perfluoroalkyl substances from industrial process waters at realistic concentrations.

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Date Created
  • 2021