Dr Wit Bloch
Bloch, Witold (Dr)
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Project description

The overarching aim of this project is to address the increasing accumulation of toxic organic pollutants in drinking water by developing selective adsorbent materials for water purification. Background: Environmental contamination by a toxic group of chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has emerged as a widespread economic and health burden in Australia and globally. PFAS have accumulated in the environment and leached into waterways due to their historical use as surfactants in manufacturing and in aviation fire-fighting foams. Although strategies to remove long-chain PFAS (six of more carbons) already exist, these treatments are ineffective for short-chain PFAS (five or less carbons). This presents an enormous health risk since the toxic effects of short-chain PFAS are not yet well understood. Proposed solution: Metal-organic cages (MOCs) are soluble nanocage structures that self-assemble from organic ligands and metal-ions. We have shown through preliminary studies that MOCs are able to encapsulate short-chain PFAS in a size-selective manner. This breakthrough result forms the basis of the current project, where the host-guest chemistry of MOCs with PFAS, as well as their polymerisation into adsorbents, will be explored.  

Further information

The project bridges between areas of organic synthesis, supramolecular chemistry and materials chemistry. The project can be divided into three stages. The focus of each stage can be adjusted to suit student interest. 1)  Synthesis of novel water-soluble MOCs. 2)  Investigations of MOC-PFAS host-guest interactions by NMR spectroscopy and single-crystal X-ray diffraction. 3)  Fabrication and testing of MOC adsorbents with PFAS contaminated water.

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