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Superfund Research Program

Advancing VOC Treatment with Novel Materials and Processes

Project Leader: John Fortner (Yale University)
Grant Number: P42ES023716
Funding Period: 2022-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2022-2027)

Volatile organic compound (VOC) exposure increases the risk for a variety of adverse health outcomes, including cardiometabolic disease (CMD). VOC management, including remediation, is thus necessary to mitigate exposure and thereby adverse health outcomes. Within the University of Louisville Superfund Research Center’s overall mission, the primary goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate novel, material-driven processes for new VOC treatment strategies and technologies to meet the challenge of the complicated nature of VOC occurrence and exposure. Towards this goal, this project aims to achieve broad-based VOC treatment capacities, in both the gas and liquid phases, with high efficiencies, flexible operation, low energy inputs, no chemical additives, and no harmful products. The researchers propose an innovative, three-pronged project structure, focused on materials that are capable of harnessing various irradiation energies (e.g. solar irradiation, microwaves) for broad VOC treatment. Specifically, three integrated Project Aims are designed to:

  • Develop and demonstrate a unique class of hyperthermic nanomaterials, defined by their capacity to emit (localized, surface-based) heat when subjected to microwaves, effectively acting as energy ‘antennas’, to generate extreme, surface localized heat gradients for thermal treatment of VOCs.
  • Develop and demonstrate metal/oxide hybrid materials to achieve synergistic photothermocatalytic effects for oxidative VOC degradation at significantly reduced temperatures (even room temperature) compared with conventional thermocatalytic oxidation.
  • Develop and demonstrate 3D, crumpled graphene oxide (CGO) composites as a material platform for improving performance, and in some cases underpinning novel (re)design strategies, for membrane-based (flow-through), photo-enhanced VOC treatment.

This project is integrated into the larger Center effort(s) through training, shared and coordinated analytical techniques, advanced data analyses, and critical data sharing regarding VOC composition and concentrations, as a function of source(s), relating to the mission of the Center. Upon the successful completion of the Project, newly developed materials, technologies, and processes as well as fundamental insights will directly advance VOC treatment paradigms, leading to better VOC exposure management strategies and thus potential health benefits.

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