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Gold may be a coveted precious metal, but it could also be the key to cleaner drinking water.

A team of UCF researchers is exploring the use of the metal to develop a novel method to rid drinking water of harmful algal blooms, or HABs, which occur when colonies of algae grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, birds and other living creatures.

Their project is supported through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program, which recently awarded $1.2 million to 16 collegiate teams across the United States.

UCF received $75,000 for their two-year project that aims to develop a gold-decorated nickel metal-organic framework (MOF) that removes microcystins — toxins produced by harmful algae blooms — from the water. MOFs are porous clusters of metal polymers that are used in many practical applications.

The UCF student team includes environmental engineering doctoral student Samuel Adjei-Nimoh, materials science and engineering doctoral student Nimanyu Joshi, and environmental engineering undergraduate students Jennifer Hughes and Julia Going. The principal investigator of the grant is Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering Woo Hyoung Lee, and the co-principal investigator is Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Yang Yang.

“MOFs have been used as a catalyst for many research areas such as hydrogen storage, carbon capture, electrocatalysis, biological imaging and sensing, semiconductors and drug delivery systems,” Lee says. “In this project, we’re using the gold-decorated nickel MOF as a photocatalyst to remove water pollutants.”

Read article from UCF Today.
By Marisa Ramiccio | April 17, 2024