Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Engineering, computing & technology : Civil engineering
Sustainable Development; Physics and Materials Science
[en] Fate and Behavior of certain nano particles in municipal sewage plant, with particular focus on anaerobic sludge treatment
Rahimi, Anahita Bahareh mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication (FSTC) > Engineering Research Unit >]
University of Luxembourg, ​Luxembourg, ​​luxembourg
Docteur en Sciences de l'Ingénieur
259 + 11
Hansen, Joachim mailto
Gutleb, Arno mailto
Greger, Manfred mailto
Leyer, Stephan mailto
Emmerling, Christoph mailto
Rahimi, Anahita Bahareh mailto
[en] Nano particle ; Sludge treatment ; Biogas
[en] The increasing use of nanoparticles and the market to commercialize this innovative technology requires a deeper understanding of the behavior of nanoparticles (NPs) and the resulting consequences in an environmentally The increasing use of nanoparticles and the market to commercialize this innovative technology requires a deeper understanding of the behavior of nanoparticles (NPs) and the resulting consequences in an environmentally relevant matrix. However, since the fate and behavior of nanoparticles is largely unknown to the environment, this study was done to investigate the key properties of nanoparticles, parameters to describe them and to discuss how these parameters can influence their fate and behavior in the natural environment. The core goal of this discussion is to relate sludge treatment to relevant properties of the nanoparticle, which may interact with a range of substances naturally present in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and activated sludge.
Understanding these properties is necessary for interpreting the fate of nanoparticles and predicting their effects in the actual environment. Environmentally matrix are challenging to investigate, for instance as in sludge and anaerobic sludge stabilization. According to the literature, it will be assumed that about 95% of the NPs entering the WWTP end up in the sludge. This work reports on the investigation and observation of NPs behavior in the different stages, using different experiments and metering devices. The different experiments include (i) characterization of NPs before their application (NanoSight), (ii) behavior analysis in terms of kinetic transformations (Turbiscan), (iii) long- and short-term analysis of NPs effects on anaerobic sludge stabilization (laboratory fermentation plants).
The characterization represents the current size distribution of the NPs in a controlled environment (H2O). Size is one of the defining properties of NPs, which causes changes in physical and chemical properties of NPs compared to their original materials. The results show that the distribution of NPs depends on the type of particle, surface coating and dispersion concentration. These parameters are subject to permanent changes in sludge. That is why an exact allocation to the effects seems almost impossible.
Characterization is indispensable for the subsequent comprehension of the effects, and for the understanding of findings, which may result from the behavioral analysis, as well as from the effect analysis. The behavioral analysis was carried out by Turbiscan technology to consider relevant sludge parameters and substances (Chemical Oxygen Demand COD, Polymers, Humic acids, digestion process) to the behavior of NPs in sludge. The initial aim was to progressively add of representative substances to approximate the experiment to natural conditions. The phase separation detection identified a clear sedimentation behavior in all samples. To explain this and the kinetic modification as well as the resultant kinetic instability, the NPs’ diameter (particle size detection) were studied. The more instable samples had often smaller diameters. The substances within the sludge seem to influence the kinetic stability of NPs. This could be caused by the dynamic corona (active interaction with environment) and hard corona (strongly bound and restrained interaction with environment) formation, as well as agglomeration or modification of surface charges. Changes in kinetic stability means changes in the behavior and fate of NPs in such an environmental media like sludge.
However, since the sludge is filtered for the behavioral analysis, the microorganism’s role is neglected. In order to complete the behavioral analysis considering the microorganism’s contribution, the consequences of the NP-behavior are measured as effects under various realistic conditions. The effects of NPs’ behavior on the anaerobic microorganisms were investigated based on their potential and efficiency in anaerobic sludge stabilization for gaining additional insights.
The long-term effects of NPs in sludge treatment plants (STP) were investigated using four parallel pilot reactors operated under identical conditions, with daily feeding (substrate and two different NP-concentration). There was a temporary decrease of Biogas especially at the third phase (second concentration) except for the ZnO-reactor while the proportion of methane remained stable. Based on the knowledge obtained from the characterization and behavioral analysis, this might be due to the kinetic transformation of NPs. When the particle size for instability is exceeded as a consequence of surface changes and agglomerations, rapid sedimentation occurs. After eliminating the NP-reactivity and obtaining NP-agglomerations, NPs are extracted from the digestion system (sedimentation). Due to that, the microorganisms are able to operate to their full potential and efficiency, which is an indication of extracellular inhibition and preclude probably the intracellular inhibition caused by ions release.
The short-term effects of ENPs in batch experiments were investigated under identical conditions. Furthermore, oxygen was used as an inhibitor to intensify the NP’s effects on the anaerobic microorganisms and digestion process. Oxygen is toxic for anaerobic microorganisms and enhance the release of ions. NP-effects were evaluated for methane yield. It will be assumed that the corona formations created by the sludge substances, reduce the release of ions and the NP-toxicity, even after decreasing the biomass. In addition, the NPs are able to eliminate O2 as an inhibitor, as well as positively influence the production dynamics and methane yield.
To sum up, the growing interest in nanoparticles and their potential has presented many challenges for science, in toxicology and innovative technologies. These challenges bring new questions related to understanding NPs and their interplay with certain circumstances. A considerable contribution has been made for understanding the behavior of nanoparticles in the environmentally relevant media. However, a partial understanding for the fate of nanoparticles in complex matrices has been gained. As the nanoparticles themselves are such a complex matter, they require more research in developing a more complete understanding of the way they function. Having this knowledge would enable to explore progressively their behavior and fate in complex matrices..
Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology - LIST

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