Although not organised by the Panel the presentation came to our attention and may be of interest to our members.

Nanotechnology and Ground Water-‘Small’ Solutions to Big Problems

Presenter: Dr. Denis O’Carroll,

Associate Professor University of Western Ontario, Canada.

Tuesday  5  June  at  7pm to celebrate  World Environment Day. 

Populations in significant parts of Canada and Australia consume groundwater as their domestic water so protection of this resource is essential to their health and well-being. Historically, the subsurface was thought to act as a natural filter of wastes injected into the ground. The potential for these wastes to persist in the subsurface for decades, potentially contaminating drinking water sources was ignored. Non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs), such as perchlorethlyene and dichloroethane, are one class of waste liquids that were subject to improper disposal practices. These liquids are extremely difficult to remove from subsurface aquifers and are the focus of this work. Nanometals are one promising innovative groundwater remediation technology that convert these contaminants into less toxic or nontoxic materials. They are particularly useful because of their size – a single human hair is 500 to 5,000 times as wide. At that scale, they can move through microscopic flow channels in soil and rock, reaching and destroying groundwater pollutants that larger particles cannot. In this study reactive nanometals were developed to degrade subsurface contaminants.  Nanometals that were developed in our laboratory were injected at two contaminated site in Ontario, Canada.  One of these field trials was part of a The Nature of Things with David Suzuki television special focusing on environmental nanotechnology. Significant contaminant degradation has been observed at both of these test sites.

Dr. O’Carroll is an Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Western Ontario and a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales.  He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.  Upon completion of his Ph.D. Dr. O’Carroll completed one postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan and was awarded a NSERC postdoctoral award to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto.  He was awarded the Province of Ontario 2007 Early Researcher Award and more recently the University of Western Ontario Green Award and the R. Mohan Mathur Award for Excellence in Teaching.  He is an Associate Editor for the Vadose Zone Journal and Special Guest Editor for the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology’s special issue: Manufactured Nanomaterials in Subsurface Systems.  He has ongoing research projects developing nanometals for contaminated site remediation, investigating the fate of carbon based nanoparticles in the environment, improving our understanding of the fate of waste liquids in the subsurface as well as green roof performance.

Free event at Manly.

Bookings essential.

Contact: Manly Environment Centre  9976 2842.