Projects | Chloro-Organic Degradation

Dr. Subhas Sikdar and Dr. Dibakar Bhattacharyya 

Dibakar Bhattacharyya (Project Leader)
Lindell Ormsbee
Thomas D.Dziubla
J. Zach Hilt


Chlorinated organic compounds (PCBs, TCE, etc.) constitute a large group of Superfund pollutants of national concern due to their high toxicity, persistence and various sources of distribution in the environment. Flexible and efficient technology development for their remediation is of immense importance and requires consideration of both reductive (using Fe, Fe/Pd) and oxidative (using iron oxide) pathways for chloro-organic degradation to non-toxic compounds. The availability of an immobilized peroxide source will greatly enhance application of modified Fenton chemistry for remediation by eliminating the need for storage and injection of peroxide at treatment sites. The critical barriers to progress on the use of NPs and H2O2 in remediation are: particle aggregation, loss, stability, and excessive chemical (peroxide) consumption. The use of a porous and functionalized membrane platform to directly synthesize controlled NPs and minimization of peroxide consumption provides an approach to overcome the remediation issues. 

Our tunable iron/iron oxide NP membrane immobilization platform offers broad technical advances, including sustained reaction rates, significant reduction of material use, sharply reduced release of NPs to environment as a result of cross-linked polymer membrane platform, and highly improved health benefits through embedded efforts to reduce toxicity inherent in the reduction process. Our recent findings include: 1) enhancement of the reactive properties of bimetallic NPs and nanotubes for degradation of PCBs, TCE, and PCB mixtures; 2) immobilization of glucose oxidase enzyme in membrane Layer by Layer assembly for on-site H2O2 and chelate generation; 3) preliminary study of combine reductive pathway (ex. PCB to biphenyl) with free-radical based oxidative treatment (to organic acids) to obtain non-chlorinated final products, 4) joint work(with Project 1) to evaluate pollutant toxicity as a function of the extent of organic degradation by monitoring damage in vascular endothelial cells. Important scientific accomplishments are: degradation of dense non-aqueous phase liquid TCE droplets using a chelate-modified Fenton reaction; synthesis of non-aggregated Fe and bimetallic (Fe/Pd) NPs and iron/ iron(III) oxide core-shell NPs in polymer membrane pore matrix; development of Fe/Fe-Pd nanotubes and successful dechlorination of PCB 77; preliminary demonstration of non-toxic product formation using a combined reductive/oxidative pathway; determination of potential remediation strategies for groundwater remediation at the PDGP Superfund site.  To test the feasibility of continuous manufacture of metal functionalized membranes, full-scale PAA/PVDF flat sheets and modules (40 inches wide and 300 feet long, 70 mm PVDF thickness) were recently developed by joint work with Sepro Membranes Inc, Oceanside, California. The PVDF membrane support was made with backing fabric to increase material stability.

Our advances in the area of toxic organic degradation by bimetallic NPs and by free radical reactions have led to new work with state agencies and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to explore potential applications of our nanostructured metals and oxidative techniques at the PGDP site involving TCE/PCB remediation. Research activities (2008-present) have resulted in a total of 26 peer-reviewed publications (two jointly with the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Cincinnati through an ARRA P42 supplement award, one in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and one jointly with biomedical Project 1), and filed (2012) three full utility patents. In addition, the academic publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. just released a timely 400-page book (Responsive Membranes and Materials, 2013) with the Project Leader as the main editor.


Minghui Gui
Sebastian Hernandez
Joe Pappi


Krysta Waldrop
Li Xiao


  • Bhattacharyya, D. and T. Schafer (Editors), Book on “Responsive Membrane and Materials”, John Wiley Publisher (Jan 2013).
  • Xiao, Li,  A. Isner, J. Z. Hilt and D. Bhattacharyya, Temperature Responsive Hydrogel with Reactive Nanoparticles”, J. Applied Polymer Science, 128, 1804-1814 (2013)
  • Zahran, E., Bhattacharyya, D., Bachas, L.,” Reactivity of Pd/Fe Bimetallic Nanotubes in Dechlorination of Coplanar Polychlorinated Biphenyls”, Chemosphere, 91, 165-171 (April 2013).
  • Gui, M., Ormsbee, L., Bhattacharyya, D., "Reactive Functionalized Membranes for Polychlorinated Biphenyl Degradation", Invited manuscript, IEC Research (ACS) special issue honoring Dr. Enrico Drioli, DOI: 10.1021/ie400507c, ASAP Online( May 2013)
  • Smuleac,V., Xiao, Li., and Bhattacharyya, D., “Greener and other approaches to synthesize Fe and Pd nanoparticles in functionalized membranes and hydrogel”, in ACS Book on Green Nanotechnology and the Environment, American Chemical Society, IN PRESS (2013).


Degradation of Toxic Organics by Nanosized Metallic Systems and by Hydroxyl Radical Reaction

Membrane-Iron Oxide Nanoparticle Based Reactor for Toxic Organic Degradation


UK Superfund Student Li Xiao from Reveal on Vimeo.