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The Role of Microbial Metabolites in Pb-Calcite Surface Interactions


The behavior of metals, many of which are toxic even in trace quantities, is an important topic as population growth puts pressure on the world’s drinking water resources. Relatively little is yet known about the interdependencies between the biotic and abiotic aspects of metal sorption. The overall aim of my project is to define the processes by which microbial metabolites mediate Pb sorption on calcite. I will use a combination of surface sensitive techniques, including X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), and Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation Monitoring (QCM-D) to extend current understanding of the biogeochemical controls on Pb behavior to the molecular scale. My study lies at the intersection of geoscience, surface physics and biointerface science and uses an interdisciplinary approach to answer questions at the crossover of environmental bio- and geochemistry, that are critical for society. The results will provide insights for the water industry, so treatment can be improved by providing criteria for selecting bacteria that can synthesize particular metabolites to immobilize specific toxic metals. Internal corrosion of Pb pipes in water distribution systems is currently an immediate, world-wide public health concern. A recent study estimated that 25% of houses in the EU have at least one Pb pipe, putting 120 million Europeans at risk. My background in drinking water treatment, the new expertise I will gain and the results from the MiMe project will address this concern. I bring my experience and motivation to the members of the Nano-Science Center, to exchange for the opportunity to learn new skills on a set of unique instruments that can “see” at the molecular-level. This new knowledge will form the base for my future research. Indeed, my host, Prof. Stipp’s expertise in the nano-scale processes on mineral surfaces is at the top of the field; I will benefit tremendously from my time at the University of Copenhagen
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Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn


Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 230 627,20

Administrative Contact

Ivan Kristoffersen (Mr.)

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 275180


Closed project

  • Start date

    1 September 2011

  • End date

    31 August 2013

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 230 627,20

  • EU contribution

    € 230 627,20

Coordinated by: