American University of Beirut

Design and Fabrication of Dynamic Adsorbents for Environmental Applications

Dr. ​​​​Rana Bilbeisi
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
T: 01-350000 x3434

Water pollution is a global environmental problem threatening the entire biosphere and affecting the life of living organisms. Discharging pollutants into aquatic environments results in deteriorating the quality of water and limiting access to clean water. Driven by the need of developing sustainable solutions for water treatment, our group works on the design and development of dynamic receptors and nanomaterials for the removal of anions, heavy metals, and organic pollutants from water. Challenges associated with the controlled capture and release of pollutants in the field of molecular recognition and separation can be addressed by preparing dynamic adsorbents, capable of sequestering and releasing pollutants in response to an external stimulus.  

Our group is actively exploring the design and preparation of new classes of dynamically functionalized adsorption material displaying the advantages of simplicity, efficiency, and reusability. Zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIF-8), and their derivatives, have been drawing increasing attention due to their thermal and chemical stability. The remarkable stability of ZIF-derivatives in aqueous and high pH environments, in addition to their tunability and ease of incorporation of functional groups to their framework, renders ZIF-derivatives ideal candidates for the removal of various classes of contaminants from wastewater. The design and preparation of novel ZIF-derivatives through the integration of mixed-linkers and post-synthetic modification were achieved by our group. The application of prepared ZIF-derivatives, as adsorption material and functionalizing agents, in the selective removal of heavy metals and dyes from water is explored by our group. Functionalization of electrospun membranes, with simple organic ligands and ZIF-derivatives, are also developed by our group and their application in removing metal ions and organic contaminates is explored.

Characterization of the prepared adsorbents and exploring their application would not have been achieved without the great assistance of the CRSL team and their well-maintained instruments. We heavily rely on Powder X-Ray Diffraction, Thermal Gravimetric Analysis, Scanning Electron Microscopy for the characterization of the adsorbents. Ion-chromatography and Atomic adsorption are used to assess the adsorption capacity of the adsorbents towards anions and heavy metals.

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