Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar: Monday, December 1, 2014, 3-4 PM, GLRC 202, Public Welcome
Speaker: Dr. Caryn L. Heldt
Title: Virus Removal from Water and Bioterapeutics
The removal of viruses can save millions of lives through the creation of safe drinking water and reducing the cost of biotherapeutic production to increase access to live saving drugs. In order to create more robust virus removal methods, we need to better understand the surface characteristics of viruses. The most well-known surface characteristic of viruses is negative charge. To take advantage of this, we created filtration membranes with a positively charged polymer. An ideal virus removal membrane would have low transmembrane pressure, high water flux, high pathogen removal, and have a long, workable lifetime. To provide these qualities, we created a nanofiber filtration material that has a microporous structure for high water flux and low transmembrane pressure. Viruses adsorbed to the high surface area nanofibers through electrostatic interactions for virus removal. A lesser-known surface characteristic of viruses is hydrophobicity. We have evidence that viruses are hydrophobic and therefore, we have explored novel flocculants for virus removal that take advantage of virus hydrophobicity. We have been able to remove two viruses with theses flocculants, and we continue to explore the effect of other viruses in our flocculant system. The flocculant system is more applicable to the removal of viruses from biotherapeutics, but other flocculants, based on hydrophobicity and are less expensive, could be applied to water treatment.