Muhammad Zubair | ALES Graduate Seminar

Date(s) - 20/01/2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
410C Agriculture/Forestry Centre, Agriculture/Forestry Centre, Edmonton

A graduate exam seminar is a presentation of the student’s final research project for their degree.
This is an ALES PhD Final Exam Seminar by Muhammad Zubair. This seminar is open to the general public to attend.

To attend online:

Thesis Topic: Feather Keratin Derived Sustainable Biosorbents for Adsorption of Heavy Metal Ions from Water

PhD with Drs. Aman Ullah and Roopesh Syamaladevi.

Seminar Abstract:

Water is the epicenter of sustainability and has an essential part of the existence and development of the ecosystem and socioeconomic pillars. However, one in every three humans does not have access to clean drinking water around the globe and heavy metal ions pollution is the major contributor. This study aimed to develop keratin derived biosorbents for the removal of heavy metals from contaminated water.
Poultry feathers, an underutilized poultry industry by-product with high keratin protein contents, can be used as a sustainable biomass for biosorbents production to clean heavy metals contaminated water. However, keratin itself has a low adsorption capacity for heavy metals, which can be improved by exposing the active sites of the feather keratin through effective modifications. This research focused on sustainable biosorbents production from feather keratin (FK), i.e., the extraction and nanomodification of keratin with graphene oxide (GO), nanochitosan (NC) and surface modified graphene oxide (SMGO) leading to biosorbents.
In the first study, a facile method was used to synthesize keratin derived biosorbents using water dispersed graphene oxide. To develop the biosorbents, feathers were washed, dried and defatted followed by the dissolution of keratin with a mixture of urea, tris-base and sodium sulfite. The keratin was modified using different ratios of graphene oxide (1, 3 and 5%) to enhance its adsorption capacity. The nanomodification of keratin was carried out by cross-linking with the graphene oxide predominantly via an esterification reaction.
In the second study, the biosorbents were prepared by first unraveling and then cross-linking keratin with NC. The nanomodifications were carried out using different concentrations of NC (1, 3 and 5%) in the keratin solution. The mixtures were treated at 75 °C overnight which predominantly promoted the formation of ester bonds between the hydroxyl groups of nanochitosan and the carboxylic groups of the keratin biopolymer.
In the third study, graphene oxide was modified first with acryl amide to introduce the acrylic groups on the graphene oxide surface. Introducing acrylic groups on the graphene oxide facilitates the grafting or graft copolymerization with keratin biopolymer. GO was modified with acryl amide under alkaline conditions using N, N′-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide and hydroxy benzotriazole as coupling agent. The surface modified GO was then graft-copolymerized with the keratin in the presence of radical initiators.
The structural characteristics of the prepared biosorbents were determined using attenuated total reflectance-fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR- FTIR), X-ray photoelectrons spectroscopy (XPS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). While thermal properties were assessed with thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The surface morphology, internal structure and surface area were studied using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and Brunauer Emmett Teller (BET), respectively. The results showed the successful modification of feather keratin with GO, NC and surface modified graphene oxide. The chemical/physical interaction of the protein biopolymers with the nanoparticles led to the improved surface functionalities of the keratin with substantial morphological changes, uncovering surface functional groups which enhanced the adsorption capacity of keratin for heavy metals. These observations provided an essential basis for the experimental design of high performance biosorbents for water remediation.
The nanomodified biosorbents were then tested against a synthetic wastewater solution containing 600 μgL−1 of 8 trace metals, i.e., NiII, CoII, PbII, Cd II, Zn II, As III, SeIV and Cr IV. The 10 ml solution of multi metals was amended with 0.1g of each prepared biosorbents and incubated for 24 hours, followed by centrifugation and analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) for the potential simultaneous removal of metal cations (NiII, CoII, PbII, CdII, ZnII) and oxyanions (AsIII, SeIV and Cr IV) in a single treatment. Among synthesized biosorbents FK/GO, FK/NC, FK/SMGO derived biosorbents exhibited adsorption of metals upto 99, 98 and 99%, respectively. Furthermore, insights into the biosorption mechanism revealed that the electrostatic interaction, chelation and complexation primarily contributed to the removal of multiple heavy metal ions from synthetic wastewater in a single treatment.
In summary, this research study has demonstrated that modification of feather keratin with GO, NC and SMGO effectively improves its sorption capacity for removing multiple trace metal ions from synthetic wastewater in a single treatment. Moreover, environmentally friendly keratin derived biosorbents will help treat industrially contaminated water and minimize poultry feather related environmental pollution.

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