Micropollutants (emerging contaminants and heavy metals) are ubiquitous in the environment. Each specific micropollutant contributes little to water pollution in terms of mass, but continuous exposure and bioaccumulation make micropollutants a cause for concern. At the same time, low concentrations and chemical diversity make it almost impossible to remove micropollutants from water inexpensively. Our research focuses on using sustainable hydrogel microparticles made using microfluidics and optimized using machine learning to remove micropollutants from water. The microparticles are long-lasting, reusable, show faster uptake, and are more sustainable than commercial materials. Outside of municipal and industrial water treatment equipment, and household water purification systems, we anticipate several niche industrial markets in water treatment for use in semiconductors, food and beverages, and other kinds of manufacturing. We are currently designing prototype pilot-scale water treatment systems to clean simulated and real wastewater using our technology.
D. Gokhale, I. Chen, and P. S. Doyle, ‘Micelle-Laden Hydrogel Microparticles for the Removal of Hydrophobic Micropollutants from Water,’ ACS Appl. Polym. Mater., 4(1), 746-754 (2022).
D. Gokhale, I. Chen, and P. S. Doyle, ‘Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations of immobilized micelle systems and their interactions with hydrophobic molecules,’ Soft Matter, 18(24), 4625-4637 (2022).