Doshi, Rajat (School: Henry B. Plant High School)
Arsenic is a carcinogenic contaminant that pollutes the groundwater, a consequence of poor arsenic disposal. Various techniques are used to remove arsenic, such as oxidation, coagulation-flocculation, ion exchange, and adsorption, among which adsorption is the most efficient method. Current arsenic separating agents on the market have a limited adsorption capacity. The overall objective of this work is to develop a computational tool for the design of novel adsorbents for arsenic remediation using clay materials including beidellite, zeolite, and sepiolite that are cheap and readily available. In the first part of this research, we use the Group Contribution Method (GCM) to predict thermodynamic properties and calculate the UNIFAC interaction parameters between arsenic and other functional groups that are selected from clay materials. In the second part of this research, we utilize a computer-aided molecular design (CAMD) framework that develops new adsorbent candidates with enhanced adsorption capacities based on the group interaction parameters generated in the first part. The efficient ant colony optimization (EACO) algorithm maximizes the adsorption capacity with certain structural possibilities, thermodynamic property correlations, and process conditions. It was found that the newly designed adsorbents have an order of magnitude higher removal capacity than the adsorbents’ reported in the literature.
American Statistical Association: Certificate of Honorable Mention