Explore the Nano World 

 Wen's Research Group​

Wen Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE

Principal Investigator

Phone: (973) 596-5520 
Fax: (973) 596-5790
Email: wen.zhang@njit.edu

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

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Project Principal Investigator: Wen Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE

Institution: New Jersey Institute of Technology

Location: Newark, NJ

Total Funding: $200,000

Project Period: November 2023 - November 2024

Project Summary: This project will evaluate and validate the technical and economic viability of foam fractionation for removing freshwater algae using air nanobubbles to produce bubble foam (a foamy structure of tiny bubbles usually stabilized by surfactants or surface-active agents and thus exhibits high surface areas and stability in water). The produced foam will absorb or adsorb water pollutants including harmful algal cells and their toxic metabolites via a so-called foam fractionation separation process. Nanobubbles, or ultrafine bubbles, have longer residence times and increased specific surface area which can facilitate mass transfer, sorption, and chemical reactions at the gas/liquid interface. The collapse of nanobubbles creates shock waves that promote the formation of hydroxyl radicals that may inactivate algae under proper conditions. However, there are only a few limited studies that reported the use of nanobubbles in foam fractionation for algal separation and algogenic pollutant removal, despite of the studies on other pollution remediation (e.g., PFAS) or biomolecular separation. The goals of this project are 1. To investigate different variables including surfactant types, on the effectiveness of algal separation, 2. Compare the algal separation efficiencies of nano-bubbles with and without surfactants on algogenic pollutants and 3. Investigate the separation mechanisms and optimization of removal kinetics. This project will support one dedicated Ph.D. student (Yihan Zhang) and a postdoc researcher to work with the PI, Dr. Wen Zhang and complete the tasks. The results will be disseminated to the research community and the public via the US HABCTI.

Nanobubbles-enabled foam fractionation for efficient removal of algae and algogenic pollutants