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Application of sugarcane industry waste as an adsorbent in bioremediation for pharmaceutical removal

Grant number: 23/18354-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2024
Effective date (End): February 28, 2025
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Chemical Engineering - Chemical Process Industries
Principal Investigator:Diego Andrade Lemos
Grantee:Geovana Vargas
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Exatas e de Tecnologia (CCET). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The accumulation of micropollutants in water resources has become a concern due to the problems of water shortage for human consumption and use in agriculture, in addition to the socio-environmental impacts of these emerging pollutants. Water contamination by pharmaceuticals is a growing environmental concern due to the high rate of use and inappropriate disposal of medicines. In Brazil, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) represent approximately 45% by mass of drugs sold, as they do not require a prescription to be purchased. These pharmaceutical compounds after use are excreted and released into sewage systems and can reach natural water bodies or even be reintroduced into the environment through irrigation in agriculture. This contamination affects aquatic ecosystems and can generate impacts on human health, representing a challenge for preserving water quality and requiring effective bioremediation strategies. Conventional processes used in water treatment plants for supply and consumption are, in most cases, insufficient to remove these pharmaceutical residues present in the water. An alternative is the use of the adsorption technique to remove these drugs from aqueous solutions and effluents. In this context, non-traditional adsorbents emerge as an option as they are low-cost and effective in removing contaminants. Agro-industrial waste has potential and has been studied as an alternative to traditional adsorbents, with sugarcane bagasse being a great option. Bagasse, generated in large quantities in Brazil, is already used for the cogeneration of electrical energy. However, after burning it in the boiler to generate electrical energy, wet bagasse ash is formed and is currently discarded in the field. The adsorption of drugs on sugarcane bagasse ash has been explored in the literature (in natural or produced in the laboratory), however there is a lack of work exploring real industrial waste, coming from autonomous plants. Thus, the present work aims to evaluate the application of sugarcane bagasse ash from real industrial boilers in the bioremediation of contaminated water aiming to remove paracetamol and ibuprofen through adsorption. Tests will be carried out to verify the influence of parameters such as ash particle diameter, amount of material used and pH of the solution. Based on the answers obtained in terms of removal efficiency and adsorptive capacity, creation of isotherms and kinetic studies will also be carried out to better understand the process. Finally, tests will be carried out with multi-element solutions to validate the process. It is expected that at the end of this project it will be possible to characterize this real biomass (wet ash) and identify the best conditions for applying this residue to remove pharmaceuticals from aqueous effluents.

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