Solving the Silver Nanoparticle Problem

July 30, 2013

Achievements, Featured

U.S. SJWP winner identifies sulfidation as way to clean nanoparticles from wastewater

 

Anirudh Jain won the 2013 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) by identifying sulfidation as a means to reduce silver nanoparticle pollution in wastewater. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) announced Jain as winner for his project, titled “Sulfidation as a Novel Method To Reduce Toxicity of Silver Nanoparticle Pollution.”

Michael Fields (left), Xylem, Inc. (White Plains, N.Y.), and Sanda Ralston (right), WEF President-elect, stand with the 2013 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners. From left, the winners including runner-up Leah Huling of Ada, Okla., winner Anirudh Jain of Portland, Ore., and runner-up Deepika Kurup of Nashua, N.H. were recognized for their water-related research. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Michael Fields (left), Xylem, Inc. (White Plains, N.Y.), and Sanda Ralston (right), WEF President-elect, stand with the 2013 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners. From left, the winners including runner-up Leah Huling of Ada, Okla., winner Anirudh Jain of Portland, Ore., and runner-up Deepika Kurup of Nashua, N.H. were recognized for their water-related research. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Jain, who is from Portland, Ore., was chosen from among 47 other state winners at the national competition, which was held June 14-16. His research tested the effect of increasing concentrations of a sulfidation agent on silver nanoparticles. Using five sets of silver nanoparticle samples, Jain measured nanoparticle size, surface charge, and release of silver ions. Because silver nanoparticles kill both beneficial and harmful bacteria in wastewater treatment, he exposed the five samples to Escherichia coli cultures and measured culture changes to determine overall toxicity to bacteria, according to the project report.

Jain found that the release of silver ions and surface charge decreased and nanoparticle size increased as sulfide concentration increased, “indicating reduction in toxicity,” his research report says. Increased sulfide concentration also resulted in a decreased number of E. coli cells killed, further supporting the conclusion that exposure to sulfide reduced toxicity. These results establish that sulfidation is a “potential solution for reducing the harmful effects of nanoparticle pollution,” the report says.

For winning, Jain receives $10,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to Stockholm, where he will compete against national winners from more than 30 countries for the international SJWP prize in September. He also will have the opportunity to present his research at WEFTEC® 2013, which will be held Oct. 5-9 in Chicago.

Fields stands with the Bjorn von Euler Innovation in Water Scholarship winning team of Sarah Organ and Isabella Cafaro, both from Milwaukee. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Fields stands with the Bjorn von Euler Innovation in Water Scholarship winning team of Sarah Organ and Isabella Cafaro, both from Milwaukee. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

WEF also named two runners-up at the national competition. Leah Huling of Ada, Okla., and Deepika Kurup of Nashua, N.H., each received $1000. The team of Isabella Cafaro and Sarah Organ from Milwaukee received the Bjorn von Euler Innovation in Water Scholarship for their project titled “Reducing Escherichia coli and Fecal Coliform Contamination at South Shore Beach.” The team receives $1000 in recognition of their project, which demonstrated a unique passion for education and awareness of sustainable water management.

“The level of research and creativity presented by the young men and women who participated was simply outstanding,” said Mohamed F. Dahab, chairman of the SJWP Review Committee.

WEF sponsors the U.S. SJWP with support from Xylem Inc. (White Plains, N.Y.). The Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association (Hansen, Idaho) hosted the 2013 U.S. competition and sponsored Jain.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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