Achintya bezbaruah
North Dakota State University


The Nano Team: (L to R) Rabiya Shabnam, Chris Capecchi, Sita Krajangpan, Sharanya Shanbhogue,
Achintya Bezbaruah, Chad Mayfield, Michael Quamme, Talal Almeelbi, Dhritikshama Roy, and Harjyoti Kalita

Five Years of Environmental Nanotechnology Research: View Slides

Research Interests

  • Nanomaterials for Pollution Control
  • Environmental sensors
  • Recalcitrant and micro pollutants
  • Contaminant fate and transport
  • Small community water and wastewater treatment
  • Environmental management

On-going Research Projects

Read about NRG Group Members in the NDWRRI 2009 Newsletter

Recent Publications on Nanoparticles

Nonotechnology Popularization

Research Laboratory

Dr. Bezbaruah’s laboratory occupies 2,650 square feet of the second floor of the Civil and Industrial Engineering Building. It has general apparatus (glassware) and basic support services (gas, water, air, fume hood, distilled and deionized water). Included in the laboratory are storage spaces and the offices for research assistants. The laboratory contains most basic instruments for conducting research on water quality. Examples of basic instruments available are turbidimeters, pH meters, dissolved oxygen meters, ozone generators, a respirometer, phase contact microscope, conductivity meters, ion selective probes, vacuum pumps, ovens, furnaces, incubators, an autoclave, centrifuges, balances, refrigerators, water baths, cooling units, distillation and digestion systems for chemical oxygen demand, nitrogen, and phosphorus analyses. Available major instruments in the main facility include a total carbon analyzer with boat sampler, a purge and trap GC/MSD, an iron chromatograph, and two scanning UV-visible spectrophotometers.

On-Going Research Details

1. Subsurface Delivery Vehicles for Iron Nanoparticles

Graduate Student: Sita Krajangpan (Ph.D.), USGS/NDWRRI Research Fellow 2006-07, 2007-08, 2009-10

Collaborator: Dr. Bret Chisholm

Research: Zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI) have been used for groundwater remediation of various contaminants because of their unique physiochemical properties. Various chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons, explosive material, and arsenic have been successfully decontaminated with nZVI. However, nZVI is not only highly reactive with the contaminants, but also rapidly react with surrounding media in the subsurface (dissolved oxygen and/or water) and other non-target compounds. Thus, significant loss of nZVI reactivity occurs before the particles reach the target contaminant. Additionally, strong magnetic interaction between particles causes agglomeration, limiting colloidal stability and reduction in reactive surface. Considering the requirements of an effective delivery system for nZVI, functionalized amphiphilic polysiloxanes are an ideal class of polymers for this application. The present research is target towards developing a polymeric delivery vehicle for nZVI which will be cost effective and efficient. The reseach is also directed towards making the polymer contaminant specific.

Significance: Successful development of a delivery vehicle for iron nanoparticles will have broader ramifications in the field of groundwater remediation. Targeted delivery of the nZVI will save resources and time needed for remediation of contaminants in the subsurface and thus, will help in protecting our water resources. Successful development of a polymeric delivery vehicle (APGCs) can also be pilot tested to create a reactive barrier/wall to contain the arsenic plume in southeast North Dakota and elsewhere. The results from this project will stimulate further research for the development of target specific delivery vehicles for contaminants of environmental concern.

Listen to Sita's Presentation (introduced by Achintya) at NDWRRI Meeting at Bismarck, ND, April 15, 2008. Read Sita's ACS 2008 Preprint and Harjyoti's ACS 2009 Preprint and ASCE book chapter. Also read Sita's J Haz Mat paper.

2. Iron Nanoparticles for Pesticide Remediation

Graduate Student: Jay Thompson (M.S.), USGS/NDWRRI Research Fellow 2006-07, 2007-2008

Collaborator: Dr. Bret Chisholm

Final Report: NDWRRI Final Technical Report

Research: Pesticide contamination of groundwater remains an ongoing area of concern. One promising pesticide remediation technology is reductive dechlorination by iron filings or powder.  This technology has been successful in both the lab and field.  However, limitations inherent in this process have limited its use. 

Recent research has shown that nanoscale zero valent iron (NZVI), with its high surface area and reactivity, can overcome many of these limitations.  Although particle properties can vary greatly with synthesis method, typical particles have diameters less than 100 nm.  This property results in extremely high specific surface area, which greatly speeds reactions and can eliminate potentially harmful byproducts.  Additionally, NZVI can be injected directly into an aquifer, eliminating the need for the expensive excavation associated with iron filings.  This research aims to determine the effectiveness of NZVI for the remediation of three commonly used pesticides, atrazine, alachlor and dicamba.

Significance: This research will, for the first time, comprehensively investigate the effect of iron nanoparticles on chloro-s-triazine, chloroacetanilide, and benzoic acid class herbicides.  The results of this research will be useful for the development of a treatment system for herbicide removal from groundwater.  Such a system could remediate herbicides present at a higher concentration than possible with biological processes. 

Listen to Jay's Presentation (introduced by Achintya) at NDWRRI Meeting at Bismarck, ND, April 15, 2008. Read Jay's NDWRRI Final Report and J Enviro Sci Health B paper.

3. Microorganism-Nanoparticle Interactions

Graduate Student: Rabiya Sabhnam (M.S.), USGS/NDWRRI Research Fellow 2007-08, 2009-10

Collaborators: Dr. Eakalak Khan, Dr. Bret Chisholm, Dr. Senay Simsek, Dr. John McEvoy

Research: Reported work on nanoparticle and microorganism interactions are limited, specifically in the area of environmental engineering. However, this an area where a lot of understanding is needed to achieve better results in environmental remedation. This research is focused on encapsulating metal nanoparticles and microorganisms in alginate capsules (reactors) and studying their interactions in this confined environment. The encapsuled nanoparticle-microorganism system will be later used for remediation of environmental contaminants. Some milestones have been achieved in this work: alginate capsules have been synthesized and their size and properties (e.g., membrane thickness, porosity) have been optimized. Entrapment of iron nanoparticles and microorganisms into alginate capsules has been achieved. Tracer and treatability studies are underway.

Significance: The results from this work will be useful in designing permeable reactive barriers for groundwater contaminant removal and can potentially be used in household filters to remove trace contaminants.

Listen to Rabiya's Presentation (introduced by Achintya) at NDWRRI Meeting at Bismarck, ND, April 15, 2008. Read Rabiya's ACS 2009 abstract.

4. Ion-Imprinted Polymers for Sensing and Remediation

Graduate Student: Harjyoti Kalita (Ph. D.), USGS/NDWRRI Research Fellow 2007-08, 2009-10

Collaborator: Dr. Bret Chisholm

Research: Molecular and ion imprinting technology is an attractive synthetic approach to mimic natural molecular recognition. In this process, functional monomers are allowed to self-assemble around a template molecule and subsequently cross link. Under defined conditions, the template molecule can be removed, leaving behind a cavity complementary in shape and functionality with the removed molecule. This cavity will bind molecules identical to the template molecule. The imprint functions like a lock that is only compatible with the correct key. The present research is focused on the preparation of ion/molecular imprinted polymer (IIP/MIP) which will be used as catalyst and for enhanced recognition of metal ions. Arsenic will be studied as the contaminant of concern. Later the work will be expanded to other metals and organic contaminants. Point-of-use treatment is targeted for Arsenic.

Significance: Ion/molecular imprinted chemical sensors (potentially biosensors at the later stage of the research) have potential applications in clinical diagnostics, environmental analysis, and food analysis as well as detection of illicit drugs, genotoxicity and chemical weapons. Further, IIP and MIP materials will find applications in environmental remediation. An advantage of such a remediation technology will be its target specificity. The results from this work will have universal appeal and will be very relevant to North Dakota as well. Arsenic contamination is a major concern in southeast North Dakota (568 sq mile area in Sargent, Ransom and Richland counties are affected).

Listen to Harjyoti's Presentation (introduced by Achintya) at NDWRRI Meeting at Bismarck, ND, April 15, 2008.

5. Use of Biopolymer Entrapped Iron Nanoparticles for Groundwater Nitrate Removal

Undergraduate Student: Juan Elorza (B.S.)

Research: Kinetics of nitrate degradation using entrapped zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI) and zero valent iron microparticles (mZVI) are investigated. Calcium alginate beads were used as the entrapment media to prolong reactive surface of the ZVI.

Significance: The alginate beads with entrapped nZVI can be potentially used in permeable reactive barriers for groundwater contaminant removal.

Read Juan's J Haz Mat paper.

5. Plant-Nanoparticle Interactions

Undergraduate Student: (B.S.)

Graduate Student: (M.S.)

Collaborators: Dr. Marinus Otte, Dr. Donna Jacob

Research: This research is exploring aquatic plants and titanium dioxide nanoparticle (TiO2-n) interactions. TiO2-n is a basic ingredient in many personal care products (e.g., sunscreen) in addition to being extensively used paints. TiO2-n is also finding use in environmental contaminant degradation. However, this nanoparticles have been found to bioaccumulate in fish, Daphnia (planktonic crustacean) and E-coli, and it is important to treat these particles present in our wastewater stream before they are released into lakes and rivers. The present research will first use one species of wetland plant to study possible plant uptake of TiO2-n and then expand the research to other wetland plants, vegetables, and grains. The research will look at the uptake mechanism in the cellular level.

Significance:If plants uptake nanoparticles efficiently then we can use constructed wetlands to treat waste stream to get rid of the nanoparticles. The other aspect the research is looking at is the possible harmful impacts of such uptakes. Knowing the exact mechanism of plant uptake and damage to plant tissues will help in future design of green nanoparticles.



















































































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Published by North Dakota State University
Achintya Bezbaruah
Civil Engineering and Architecture 201
Phone: (701) 231-7461
Fargo, ND 58105-5555