UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Use of Surface-Modified Nanocrystalline Cellulose Integrated Membranes to Remove Drugs from Waste Water and as Polymers to Clean Oil Sands Tailings Ponds Jackson, John; Moallemi, Ali; Chiao, Mu; Plackett, D. V. (David V.)


There is an urgent environmental need to remediate waste water. In this study, the use of surface-modified nanocrystalline cellulose (CNC) to remove polluting drugs or chemicals from waste water and oil sands tailing ponds has been investigated. CNC was modified by either surface adsorbing cationic or hydrophobic species or by covalent methods and integrated into membrane water filters. The removal of either diclofenac or estradiol from water was studied. Similar non-covalently modified CNC materials were used to flocculate clays from water or to bind naphthenic acids which are contaminants in tailing ponds. Estradiol bound well to hydrophobically modified CNC membrane filter systems. Similarly, diclofenac (anionic drug) bound well to covalently cationically modified CNC membranes. Non-covalent modified CNC effectively flocculated clay particles in water and bound two naphthenic acid chemicals (negatively charged and hydrophobic). Modified CNC integrated into water filter membranes may remove drugs from waste or drinking water and contaminants from tailing ponds water. Furthermore, the ability of modified CNC to flocculate clays particles and bind naphthenic acids may allow for the addition of modified CNC directly to tailing ponds to remove both contaminants. CNC offers an environmentally friendly, easily transportable and disposable novel material for water remediation purposes.

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