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Membranes for water purification and CO2 adsorption from Martial dust simulants


Project Description

The problem.
JSC MARS-1A is a Martian dust simulant: a terrestrial material designed by NASA to simulate the chemical and mechanical properties of Martian soil (regolith) measured by instruments on-board the various Mars rovers. In a recent publication [1], we showed that JSC MARS-1A can be transformed in a solid rock-like material by means of a process called geopolymerization. Geopolymers are a class of materials formed by the reaction of an alkaline solution with aluminosilicates: they are mostly known as building materials, but they are also used as inorganic membrane for water purification [2] and CO2 adsorption [3]. In this project, we want to study the ‘Martian geopolymer’ as an effective material for these types of applications.

The objective.
The objective of this PhD project is (i) to investigate the efficiency of membranes produced from geopolymerization of the Martian simulant, and (ii) to determine the ‘recipe’ that provides the maximal efficiency.

The approach.
The main responsibilities of the successful candidate will be:
• Set up, carry out and interpret experiments with dispersions of JSC MARS-1A alkaline solutions, at various concentrations and particle sizes
• Characterize the rheology of the dispersions before geopolymerization.
• After geopolymerization and solidification, test the resulting geopolymer membrane to assess (i) the removal efficiency of contaminants (e.g. salts, heavy metals, ammonia, urea), and CO2 absorption
• Suggest and contribute to the development of research techniques, models and methods in collaboration with colleagues.
• Analyse and interpret the results of own research and generate ideas based on outcomes.
• Disseminate research findings using appropriate and effective media such as publication, research seminars, etc.

The candidate.
Applicants require a 2:1 or higher MEng Honours degree in Chemical or Mechanical Engineering, Physics or in a related subject area. Proven experience with experimental work is essential; previous work in membrane characterization and/or paste rheology would be an advantage.

Funding Notes

Applicants require a 2:1 or higher MEng Honours degree in Chemical or Mechanical Engineering, Physics or in a related subject area. Proven experience with experimental work is essential; previous work in membrane characterization and/or paste rheology would be an advantage. The project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Enquiries to Dr Alexiadis,


References

[1] Taylor L., Alberini F., Meyer M., Alexiadis A. (2018) Study of the rheological properties of water and Martian soil simulant mixtures for engineering applications on the red planet, Advances in Space Research 61:6 1490–1500
[2] Xu M., He Y., Wang C., He X., He X., Liu J, Cui X. (2015) Preparation and characterization of a self-supporting inorganic membrane based on metakaolin-based geopolymers, Applied Clay Science 115:254–259
[3] Minelli M., Medri V., Papa, E., Landi E., Doghieri F. (2016) Geopolymers as solid adsorbent for CO2 capture, Chemical Engineering Science 148:267–274
[4] Alexiadis A., Alberini F., Meyer M. E. (2017) Geopolymers from lunar and Martian soil simulants, Advances in Space Research 59: 490–495. [3] Alexiadis A. (2015) A new framework for modelling the dynamics and the breakage of capsules, vesicles and cells in fluid flow, Procedia UTAM 16:80-88.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?
Chemical Engineering

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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