Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 738
Implementation of a Sulfide-Air Fuel Cell Coupled to a Sulfate-Reducing Biocathode for Elemental Sulfur Recovery
Bio-electrochemical systems (BES) are a flexible biotechnological platform that can be employed to treat several types of wastewaters and recover valuable products concomitantly. Sulfate-rich wastewaters usually lack an electron donor; for this reason, implementing BES to treat the sulfate and the possibility of recovering the elemental sulfur (S0) offers a solution to this kind of wastewater. This study proposes a novel BES configuration that combines bio-electrochemical sulfate reduction in a biocathode with a sulfide-air fuel cell (FC) to recover S0. The proposed system achieved high elemental sulfur production rates (up to 386 mg S0-S L-1 d-1) with 65% of the sulfate removed recovered as S0 and a 12% lower energy consumption per kg of S0 produced (16.50 ± 0.19 kWh kg-1 S0-S) than a conventional electrochemical S0 recovery system.
Membranes for Water, Gas and Ion Separation.
(MDPI AG, 2021-04-29)
In recent years, many industry sectors have recognised the importance of sustainable energy, reducing energy consumption and efficient production [...].
Ultrapermeable Composite Membranes Enhanced Via Doping with Amorphous MOF Nanosheets
(AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2021-04-28)
Thin-film composite (TFC) polymeric membranes have attracted increasing interest to meet the demands of industrial gas separation. However, the development of high-performance TFC membranes within their current configuration faces two key challenges: (i) the thickness-dependent gas permeability of polymeric materials (mainly poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS)) and (ii) the geometric restriction effect due to the limited pore accessibility of the underlying porous substrate. Here we demonstrate that the incorporation of trace amounts (∼1.8 wt %) of amorphous metal-organic framework (MOF) nanosheets into the gutter layer of TFC assemblies can simultaneously address these two limitations by the creation of rapid, transmembrane gas diffusion pathways. The resultant PDMS&MOF membrane displayed excellent CO2 permeance of 10450 GPU and CO2/N2 selectivity of 9.1. Leveraging this strategy, we successfully fabricate a novel TFC membrane, consisting of a PDMS&MOF gutter and an ultrathin (∼54 nm) poly(ethylene glycol) top selective layer via surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization. The complete TFC membrane exhibits excellent processability and remarkable CO2/N2 separation performance (1990 GPU with a CO2/N2 ideal selectivity of 39). This study reveals a strategy for the design and fabrication of a new TFC membrane system with unprecedented gas-separation performance.
Interfacial piezoelectric polarization locking in printable Ti3C2Tx MXene-fluoropolymer composites
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-05-26)
Piezoelectric fluoropolymers convert mechanical energy to electricity and are ideal for sustainably providing power to electronic devices. To convert mechanical energy, a net polarization must be induced in the fluoropolymer, which is currently achieved via an energy-intensive electrical poling process. Eliminating this process will enable the low-energy production of efficient energy harvesters. Here, by combining molecular dynamics simulations, piezoresponse force microscopy, and electrodynamic measurements, we reveal a hitherto unseen polarization locking phenomena of poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-trifluoroethylene) (PVDF-TrFE) perpendicular to the basal plane of two-dimensional (2D) Ti3C2Tx MXene nanosheets. This polarization locking, driven by strong electrostatic interactions enabled exceptional energy harvesting performance, with a measured piezoelectric charge coefficient, d33, of -52.0 picocoulombs per newton, significantly higher than electrically poled PVDF-TrFE (approximately -38 picocoulombs per newton). This study provides a new fundamental and low-energy input mechanism of poling fluoropolymers, which enables new levels of performance in electromechanical technologies.
Perivascular macrophages create an intravascular niche for CD8(+) T cell localisation prior to the onset of fatal experimental cerebral malaria
Objectives: The immunologic events that build up to the fatal neurological stage of experimental cerebral malaria (ECM) are incompletely understood. Here, we dissect immune cell behaviour occurring in the central nervous system (CNS) when Plasmodium berghei ANKA (PbA)-infected mice show only minor clinical signs. Methods: A 2-photon intravital microscopy (2P-IVM) brain imaging model was used to study the spatiotemporal context of early immunological events in situ during ECM. Results: Early in the disease course, antigen-specific CD8+ T cells came in contact and arrested on the endothelium of post-capillary venules. CD8+ T cells typically adhered adjacent to, or were in the near vicinity of, perivascular macrophages (PVMs) that line post-capillary venules. Closer examination revealed that CD8+ T cells crawled along the inner vessel wall towards PVMs that lay on the abluminal side of large post-capillary venules. 'Activity hotspots' in large post-capillary venules were characterised by T-cell localisation, activated morphology and clustering of PVM, increased abutting of post-capillary venules by PVM and augmented monocyte accumulation. In the later stages of infection, when mice exhibited neurological signs, intravascular CD8+ T cells increased in number and changed their behaviour, actively crawling along the endothelium and displaying frequent, short-term interactions with the inner vessel wall at hotspots. Conclusion: Our study suggests an active interaction between PVM and CD8+ T cells occurs across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in early ECM, which may be the initiating event in the inflammatory cascade leading to BBB alteration and neuropathology.
Selective Extraction of Medium-Chain Carboxylic Acids by Electrodialysis and Phase Separation
(AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2021-03-23)
Carboxylic acids obtained via the microbial electrochemical conversion of waste gases containing carbon dioxide (i.e., microbial electrosynthesis) can be used in lieu of nonrenewable building-block chemicals in the manufacture of a variety of products. When targeting valuable medium-chain carboxylic acids such as caproic acid, electricity-driven fermentations can be limited by the accumulation of fermentation products in the culturing media, often resulting in low volumetric productivities and titers due to direct toxicity or inhibition of the biocatalyst. In this study, we tested the effectiveness of a simple electrodialysis system in upconcentrating carboxylic acids from a model solution mimicking the effluent of a microbial electrochemical system producing short- and medium-chain carboxylic acids. Under batch extraction conditions, the electrodialysis scheme enabled the recovery of 60% (mol mol-1) of the total carboxylic acids present in the model fermentation broth. The particular arrangement of conventional monopolar ion exchange membranes and hydraulic recirculation loops allowed the progressive acidification of the extraction solution, enabling phase separation of caproic acid as an immiscible oil with 76% purity.
Fusion dynamics of cubosome nanocarriers with model cell membranes.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-10-03)
Drug delivery with nanocarriers relies on the interaction of individual nanocarriers with the cell surface. For lipid-based NCs, this interaction uniquely involves a process of membrane fusion between the lipid bilayer that makes up the NC and the cell membrane. Cubosomes have emerged as promising fusogenic NCs, however their individual interactions had not yet been directly observed due to difficulties in achieving adequate resolution or disentangling multiple interactions with common characterization techniques. Moreover, many studies on these interactions have been performed under static conditions which may not mimic the actual transport of NCs. Herein we have observed fusion of lipid cubosome NCs with lipid bilayers under flow. Total internal reflection microscopy has allowed visualisation of the fusion event which was sensitive to the lipid compositions and rationalized by lipid diffusion. The fusion event in supported lipid bilayers has been compared with those in cells, revealing a distinct similarity in kinetics.
Process Optimization on Micro-Aeration Supply for High Production Yield of 2,3-Butanediol from Maltodextrin by Metabolically-Engineered Klebsiella oxytoca.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2016)
An optimization process with a cheap and abundant substrate is considered one of the factors affecting the price of the production of economical 2,3-Butanediol (2,3-BD). A combination of the conventional method and response surface methodology (RSM) was applied in this study. The optimized levels of pH, aeration rate, agitation speed, and substrate concentration (maltodextrin) were investigated to determine the cost-effectiveness of fermentative 2,3-BD production by metabolically-engineered Klebsiella oxytoca KMS005. Results revealed that pH, aeration rate, agitation speed, and maltodextrin concentration at levels of 6.0, 0.8 vvm, 400 rpm, and 150 g/L respectively were the optimal conditions. RSM also indicated that the agitation speed was the most influential parameter when either agitation and aeration interaction or agitation and substrate concentration interaction played important roles for 2,3-BD production by the strain from maltodextrin. Under interim fed-batch fermentation, 2,3-BD concentration, yield, and productivity were obtained at 88.1±0.2 g/L, 0.412±0.001 g/g, and 1.13±0.01 g/L/h respectively within 78 h.
The Effects of Sulfonated Poly(ether ether ketone) Ion Exchange Preparation Conditions on Membrane Properties.
(MDPI AG, 2013-08-13)
A low cost cation exchange membrane to be used in a specific bioelectrochemical system has been developed using poly(ether ether ketone) (PEEK). This material is presented as an alternative to current commercial ion exchange membranes that have been primarily designed for fuel cell applications. To increase the hydrophilicity and ion transport of the PEEK material, charged groups are introduced through sulfonation. The effect of sulfonation and casting conditions on membrane performance has been systematically determined by producing a series of membranes synthesized over an array of reaction and casting conditions. Optimal reaction and casting conditions for producing SPEEK ion exchange membranes with appropriate performance characteristics have been established by this uniquely systematic experimental series. Membrane materials were characterized by ion exchange capacity, water uptake, swelling, potential difference and NMR analysis. Testing this extensive membranes series established that the most appropriate sulfonation conditions were 60 °C for 6 h. For mechanical stability and ease of handling, SPEEK membranes cast from solvent casting concentrations of 15%-25% with a resulting thickness of 30-50 µm were also found to be most suitable from the series of tested casting conditions. Drying conditions did not have any apparent impact on the measured parameters in this study. The conductivity of SPEEK membranes was found to be in the range of 10-3 S cm-1, which is suitable for use as a low cost membrane in the intended bioelectrochemical systems.
Ultrathin Ga2O3 Glass: A Large-Scale Passivation and Protection Material for Monolayer WS2
(WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2020-12-04)
Atomically thin transition metal dichalcogenide crystals (TMDCs) have extraordinary optical properties that make them attractive for future optoelectronic applications. Integration of TMDCs into practical all-dielectric heterostructures hinges on the ability to passivate and protect them against necessary fabrication steps on large scales. Despite its limited scalability, encapsulation of TMDCs in hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) currently has no viable alternative for achieving high performance of the final device. Here, it is shown that the novel, ultrathin Ga2 O3 glass is an ideal centimeter-scale coating material that enhances optical performance of the monolayers and protects them against further material deposition. In particular, Ga2 O3 capping of monolayer WS2 outperforms commercial-grade hBN in both scalability and optical performance at room temperature. These properties make Ga2 O3 highly suitable for large-scale passivation and protection of monolayer TMDCs in functional heterostructures.
Texture and texture assessment of thickened fluids and texture-modified food for dysphagia management
Thickened fluids and texture-modified foods are commonly used in the medical management of individuals who suffer from swallowing difficulty (known as dysphagia). However, how to reliably assess texture properties of such food systems is still a big challenge both to industry and to academic researchers. This article aims to identify key physical parameters that are important for objective assessment of such properties by reviewing the significance of rheological or textural properties of thickened fluids and texture-modified foods for swallowing. Literature reviews have identified that dominating textural properties in relation to swallowing could be very different for thickened fluids and for texture-modified foods. Important parameters of thickened fluids are generally related with the flow of the bolus in the pharyngeal stage, while important parameters of texture-modified foods are generally related with the bolus preparation in the oral stage as well as the bolus flow in the pharyngeal stage. This review helps to identify key textural parameters of thickened fluids and texture-modified foods in relation to eating and swallowing and to develop objective measuring techniques for quality control of thickened fluids and texture-modified foods for dysphagia management.