Preventing the rising tide of AMR: Utilising MOF Materials to Remove Antibiotics from Wastewater

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Chemistry


Due to rapid industrialisation and an increase in the world's population, anthropogenic water pollution has become a serious problem. In recent years, a range of substances have been identified as a potential threat to human life, known as emerging contaminants. Antibiotics are considered to be emerging contaminants and their presence in wastewater is of great concern; due to the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance. Due to a growing and aging population, the concentration of antibiotics in wastewater may rise. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are not designed to remove antibiotics from wastewater therefore, additional processes are urgently required. The most widely applicable and industrially viable process for contaminant removal is through adsorption. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are excellent examples of adsorbents that could be used for treating wastewater. MOFs are porous, crystalline materials made up of metal nodes joined together by organic linkers. They have many properties that make them ideal for this application but, their permanent porosities and tunable functionalities make MOFs particularly interesting. A limited number of studies have been carried out previously where MOFs have been used to remove antibiotics from water however, the experimental conditions used in these studies are unlike those observed in real life. In order for MOFs to be used in real WWTPs, their adsorption capabilities must be investigated under real world conditions. Additionally, in order to make the WWT process sustainable, it is necessary to recycle the MOF to reduce waste and costs. The research to be carried out in this project will aim to fill the gaps present in the current literature as well as looking developing a sustainable and scalable antibiotic removal process.
This project focuses on the removal of antibiotics using MOFs. Two case studies will be carried out using antibiotics which have been detected in water bodies at high concentrations. Several water-stable MOFs, containing different metals and linkers, will be used throughout the project to remove the antibiotics from wastewater. The overall aim of this project is to develop a scalable water treatment technology for the removal of antibiotics from wastewater, using metal organic frameworks. The project will be split into three parts:
1) Investigating the behaviour of MOFs in water: each MOF will be dispersed in water, of different pH values, for an extended period of time. Regular samples will be taken to monitor any structural changes in the MOFs.
2) Capability of MOFs to remove antibiotics: the adsorption capacity and removal efficiency of each MOF will be calculated in different systems containing the target antibiotics.
3) Evaluate the use and reuse of MOFs in a wastewater treatment process: this will involve looking into the regeneration of MOFs and carrying out experiments to determine the feasibility of using MOFs in real wastewater treatment processes.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S515528/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022
2115281 Studentship EP/S515528/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Aoife Marie Quinlivan