The use of hexadecylphosphonic acid functionalized magnetic nanoparticles to extract hydrocarbon pollution

By Stefanie Chen
Senior Category (Grades 11-12)
Experiment | Chemistry, Environment

Oil spills have been a compelling issue, harming both the aquatic and territorial environments, but no effective solutions have been established. The motivation behind this project is to develop a method that can minimize the damage. In this project, magnetic nanoparticles, iron (II, III) oxide, is synthesized and then functionalized with hexadecylphosphonic acid. Its effects of extracting hydrocarbon pollution from water are examined. The self-assembled monolayer of hexadecylphosphonic acid yields the nanoparticles’ superhydrophobic and lipophilic properties while maintaining their magnetic nature of iron oxide. The results demonstrate that the functionalized magnetic nanoparticles attract hydrocarbons, which are extracted along with the particles by magnets. The particles can be fully recycled and reused after each extraction.

This project examines the effects of extraction under various conditions, including different forms of magnetic particles (original sized, powdered, placed in teabags), different types of hydrocarbons (motor oil, hexane, and hexane), and different sources of water (distilled water and seawater). Except from heptane, all trials showed effective extractions with over 50% of hydrocarbons extracted. In addition to the successful extractions, the device with nanoparticles in teabags significantly reduced the time needed to recycle nanoparticles. Future investigations aim to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the extraction process and testing the nanoparticles with a wider range of hydrocarbons and water conditions.

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