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Electrokinetics across disciplines and continents: an integrated approach to finding new strategies to sustainable development

Final Report Summary - ELECTROACROSS (Electrokinetics across disciplines and continents: an integrated approach to finding new strategies to sustainable development)

The socio-economic activities due to world development are promoting increasing pressures on land, creating competition and conflicts, resulting in suboptimal use of resources. Integrated planning and management of land resources is a top subject of Agenda 21 (managed by FAO), which deals with the cross-sectoral aspects of decision-making for the sustainable use and development of natural resources. This is essential for life support systems and its productive capacity. In this context, there is a need to find new strategies for sustainable development that links social and economic progress with environmental protection and enhancement. Electrokinetic transport processes (EK) use a low-level direct current as the “cleaning agent”. EK has been applied to the remediation of polluted soils and other contaminated matrices. It also shows a great potential to be used in different fields, as in saline soil restoration, nutrients recovery from wastes or repair and maintenance of building structures. EK may be an integrated approach for new strategies aiming at sustainable development and to support waste strategies, with worldwide interest. EK can also be coupled with phytoremediation and integrated with nanotechnology, enlarging the scope of its application. The conciliation of the EK in the recovery of secondary resources, remediation and conservation is a multidisciplinary novel approach that opens new technical possibilities for waste minimization, through upgrading of particulate waste products and the recover of secondary resources for industrial, agricultural or social use. This objective is achieved through knowledge transfer activities, among a network of European and other continents centers of excellence, consolidating an European School of Electrokinetics. Joint new research on fundamentals and applied EK and its optimization added to develop new strategies for sustainable development and the solutions achieved resulted in a social-economic impact.

The project had 5 work packages (WP) entitled:
WP1) Increased utilization of secondary resources: EK in the recovery of nutrients
WP2) EK in the remediation of matrices contaminated with organics and inorganics
WP3) Restoration of salt-damaged traditional ceramic tiles using EK
WP4) Coupling EK with other technologies to enhance performance and sustainability
WP5) Final Project Conference
The project logo (Figure 1, attached) and Figure 2 (poster attached) schematizes ELECTROACROSS.
The first four WP started at the beginning of the project and continue until the end.

In WP1, a selection of waste materials containing secondary resources of high value was carried out. A new methodology for recovering P was developed, for upgrading particulate waste as membrane concentrate (MC). The results were: i) Data on the P and microcystins contents of the natural waters (raw water), and permeates and concentrate waters from the NF; ii) Removal efficiencies of P by NF; iii) Production of the membrane concentrates used for the EK for P recovery and microcystins removal.

WP2 studied the use of EK and ED (electrodialytic) transport processes to remediate selected matrices contaminated with organics and inorganics, regarding specific applications. The waste matrices, such as a) sewage sludge ash (SSA), b) sewage sludge, c) contaminated soil and c) fly-ash, that contained heavy metals, were successfully remediated; d) sewage sludge (SS) e) soil and f) sediments contaminated with organic pollutants such as 17ß-stradiol (E2) and 17a-etinilstradiol (EE2), hormones (natural and synthetic); bisphenol A (BPA), nonilphenol (OP) and octilphenol (OP), plastifyers, triclosan (TCS; 5-cloro-2-(2,4-diclorophenoxi)-phenol), PCBs, etc., were submitted to the ED process, until the remediation was successful.

WP3 advanced with the restoration of salt-damaged tiles using EK and went further with the electro-desalination of buildings suffering from salt weathering.

WP 4 succeed in coupling the EK or ED process with other technologies, namely phytoremediation and nanotechnologies to enhance performance and sustainability. Electro-phytoremediation was particularly relevant for sediments and soils contaminated with organic pollutants such as 17ß-stradiol (E2), 17a-etinilstradiol (EE2), hormones (natural and synthetic); bisphenol A (BPA), nonilphenol (OP) and octilphenol (OP), plastifyers and triclosan (TCS; 5-cloro-2-(2,4-diclorophenoxi)-phenol). The use of electro-nanoremediation was relevant for contaminated soils with PCBs.

WP5, the final Project Conference, occurred in September 2014 (http://sites.fct.unl.pt/electroacross/pages/conference) being a great success, once it counted with the added value of EREM2014 and 1. and 2. was or will be edited materials:
1. Ribeiro A. B.; Mateus, E.P.; Couto, N. (Editors) (2015). Electrokinetics across disciplines and continents - New strategies for sustainable development. Springer book with 22 chapters (Contract No. 31021).
2. Ribeiro A. B. (Editor) (2014). ELECTROACROSS Conference - Book of Abstracts & some outputs of the ELECTROACROSS project, FCT-UNL, Portugal, 11-12 September 2014, ISBN: 978-972-8893-34-7 (printed version) & ISBN: 978-972-8893-33-0 (e-book), 87 pp.

The following outcomes are also considered key results achieved:
Patent: 1
PhD Thesis: 9 completed + 3 on-going
MSc Thesis: 2 completed
Editor: 2
Book chapters: 26
Peer-reviewed international journals: 52
International conference proceedings: 58
Invited oral presentations: 24
Participation in conferences, meetings, courses: 48