Sharma receives National Science Foundation grant

Research will study use of peroxy acids (POAs) and metals for application in water treatment
August 23, 2021

Virender K. Sharma, PhD and his colleague at Georgia Tech University have been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study the multi-oxidant systems that involve peroxy acids (POAs) and metals for application in water treatment.

Sharma, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, will receive $200,000 from the grant, which totals $500,000. Sharma is also the director of the Program on Environmental and Sustainability at the School of Public Health, which addresses environment and sustainability challenges in Texas, the United States, and internationally through the development of innovative approaches in research, training and outreach.

POAs are acids that contain an acidic-OOH group. The two main classes are those derived from conventional mineral acids, especially acetic acid (vinegar), and the peroxy derivatives of organic carboxylic acids.

POAs, ferrate(VI) and permanganate(VII) are well-recognized oxidants for treating water, but each show limitations individually. This project will combine the POAs with high valent metal (HVM) or low valent metal (LVM) ions in a multi-oxidant system that can degrade contaminants in water treatment and activate chemical bonds in organic synthesis.

According to the researchers, by combining POAs with either HVMs or LVMs can significantly enhance the degradation of water contaminants. The new insights into the combined oxidants will generate robust catalytic oxidative systems useful for synthetic chemistry and water treatment.

Additionally, the research will enhance education and broaden participation of underrepresented groups by including teaching and recruiting minority students to participate in research through partnerships with nine minority institutions in south and central Texas and Georgia, and teaching K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers.

Ching-Hua Huang, Turnipseed Family Chair & Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech, will receive the remaining portion of the awarded NSF grant.

— Tim Schnettler

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