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Juan Flores-EscribanoCentral New York – Puerto Rico AGEP
Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
My work focuses on one of the up-and-coming water quality concerns, which is the release of small amounts of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) into the environment. The denominated PPCPs include a wide range of prescription and non-prescription drugs, nutritional supplements, skin care products, cosmetics and cleansing agents. PPCPs have a tendency to be “bioactive”, are extensively used all over the world, and there are thousand of different products which falls into this classification. Almost exclusively these products enter the ecosystem through treated and untreated sewage and wastewater, either excreted by humans or animals, washed off the skin or decanted down the drain. It is suspected that some wastewater treatment facilities are not operating at conditions that will destroy these compounds effectively, resulting in the need to seek for an effective way to remove PPCPs from wastewater. As we all know, conventional techniques to remove contaminants from soil include land filling, air stripping/carbon adsorption, incineration, biological activity, and chemical treatment. Regarding the chemical treatments, recent methodologies involving the use of chemical oxidation have the potential to treat all types of organic and inorganic contaminants. These methods are commonly named Advanced Oxidation Process (AOPs), which generates hydroxyl radicals (?OH) in enough quantity to affect water treatment. Current advances in AOPs, which involves the application of ultrasound waves to induce cavitation to destroy or promote the destruction of liquid phase contaminants, include environmental sonochemistry.
At this time, I’m studying different conditions in the ultrasonic reactor to enhance the degradation of caffeine, acetaminophen and other PPCPs. So far I have obtained pseudo-first order rates of degradation for caffeine and acetaminophen with orders of magnitudes similar to other pollutants whose sonolytic degradation rates have been reported using the same technique and different conditions (i.e. temperature). Ongoing and future works intends to obtain arrhenius type behavior in which the degradation rate increases with increasing the reactor temperature. Also, my process under study will be coupled with another AOP, i.e. the Fenton reaction, using Fe2+ and H2O2. This reaction will increase the amount of hydroxyl radicals produced during the reaction in order to enhance the degradation process of the selected PPCPs. Also, a sonoluminescence equipment will be used to describe and understand better the cavitation phenomena of ultrasound in which apparently there are temperatures and pressures of >5000°C and >1000 atm respectively localized inside imploding microbubbles.
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