Development of sustainable nanosorbcats based technology for hydrocarbons and organic pollutants recovery from industrial wastewater
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The worldwide shortage of fresh water and the huge competing demands from a variety of users stimulate an urgent need for finding innovative wastewater treatment processes. For instance, oil sand process-affected waters pose a critical energy issue and an environmental alert since these effluents are toxic to many aquatic and non-aquatic living organisms. In addition, some of these pollutants are non-biodegradable and, thus they will exist for a long time in the environment, which may cause a real challenge to the conventional wastewater treatment processes. Accordingly, economically viable and environmentally sound techniques are needed. The application of nanoparticle technology as adsorbents and catalysts (nanosorbcats), whether as a standalone or as an enabling technology, in cleaning up wastewater has recently received great attention. This is because of the unique chemical and physical properties of nanoparticles in comparison with their counterparts, which make them superior to the conventional adsorbent/catalysts. Hence, in the present study, the employment of newly in-house prepared silica-embedded nanosorbcats functionalized with active species of NiO and MgO for cleaning up produced water was investigated. A facile co-precipitation synthesis route was used to prepare those nanosorbcats, which were characterized by different characterization techniques like XRD, BET, HRTEM, CO2-TPD, and IR spectroscopy. The prepared nanosorbcats were then employed for the adsorptive removal of cationic, anionic, and organic acid model molecules. Computational modeling, DFT calculations, and MD simulations of the interaction between the model molecules and the surfaces of prepared nanoparticles were carried out to get more mechanistic insights into their adsorptive behaviors. Eventually, these nanosorbcats were successfully used to treat real SAGD produced waters within an experimental scheme including three processes, namely; oxy-cracking, packed-bed adsorption, and catalytic steam gasification.

University of Calgary
Shulich School of Engineering
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