Synthesis and Physiochemical Characterization of Nanocomposites for Application in the Environmental Remediation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls | AIChE

Synthesis and Physiochemical Characterization of Nanocomposites for Application in the Environmental Remediation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are extremely persistent and hazardous organic pollutants that can be found all around the globe. Since the manufacture of PCBs was banned in the US in 1977, the scientific community has made increasing efforts to develop means for the feasible environmental remediation of these contaminants. This research focused on the synthesis and characterization of novel polymers/nanocomposites with the potential to facilitate a cost-effective and selective method of PCB removal from the environment. These novel biomaterials are composed of polystyrene crosslinked with a novel acrylated polyphenol, curcumin multiacrylate (CMA). For a subset of the samples, nanocomposite materials were synthesized with varying amounts of iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs). It is postulated that the selective nature of these materials can be attributed to π-π stacking interactions between the CMA crosslinkers and the PCB molecule due to similarity in their structures. MNPs were characterized using dynamic light scattering (DLS) to determine their size and X-ray diffraction (XRD) to confirm the crystallinity of Fe3O4. Polymers and nanocomposite materials were characterized with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and UV-visible light spectrophotometry to determine the incorporation and composition of the polyphenol. The swelling behavior in different solvents was studied through a series of swelling studies. Sorption capacity of novel biomaterials for PCBs and other model molecules were analyzed with UV-visible light spectrophotometry over various time increments.