Virender Sharma, chemistry, joins in a National Science Foundation-funded grant to develop ferrates (iron in +4, +5, and +6 oxidation states) to control harmful cyanobacteria from drinking water reservoirs worldwide. The project, which will explore ways to remove cyanotoxins, or water-soluble toxic compounds produced by blue-green algae, provides $402,800 over three years to test the use of ferrates in the laboratory and the field.
Sharma, principal investigator of this grant, will receive about 50 percent of the awarded funds. He is collaborating with the University of Cincinnati, Florida International University and Wayne State University.
Of serious concern for human health, cyanobacteria have most recently been problematic in the Great Lakes and in Florida watersheds, such as Lake Okeechobee, the St. Johns River, Lake Griffin and the Rainbow River. With the outlook for warmer waters due to climate change, algae are expected to flourish, which may increase the algae’s frequency and toxicity due to an expected increase of cyanobacteria.
Conventional oxidative technologies for removal of cyanobacteria and their toxins, such as chlorination, UV light and ozonization are frequently not cost-effective and may create toxic byproducts. “We believe we can make a significant and cost-effective contribution in the field of water purification using ferrate technologies,” said Sharma.