Wastewater treatment is vital to protecting human and environmental. Interest has grown in novel applications of hydrogels in nutrients separation and recycle for water treatment utilizing their characteristics in adsorbing and desorbing aqueous nutrients. Hydrogels are polymers that contain hydrophilic functional groups which interact with water and nutrients resulting in structural swelling of the hydrogels and partitioning of nutrients between solid and aqueous phases. Hydrogels can be synthesized using various methods to improve mechanical stability and enhance the efficiency of nutrients removal. Among diverse syntheses, UV photo-initiation provides a way to incorporate different types of monomers via a high reaction efficiency and monomer conversion rate. UV photo-initiation also produces co-polymers which enables the control of hydrogel specific properties. The goal of this research is to investigate whether the co-polymer hydrogels synthesized by UV photo-initiation would deliver higher performance in removing specific nutrients from feed water and releasing the adsorbed nutrient for reuse under specific experimental conditions, in comparison with those exerted by other types of hydrogels. The hydrogels synthesized and tested in this study were microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), polyacrylamide (PAM), a hybrid of MCC and PAM (MCC-PAM), and UV photo-initiated MCC-PAM hydrogels with 1 % and 5 % MCC (UV1 and UV5, respectively). It was hypothesized that the UV photo-initiation process would render UV1 and UV5 hydrogels more feasible for application in adsorption and desorption because of the expected combined properties from cellulose and acrylamide. Experimental results showed that UV1 and UV5 retained their mechanical strength to a better extent compared to their counterparts and adsorbed medium amount of urea. MCC had the highest adsorption capacity of 61.1 mg N/g while UV5, UV1, and PAM showed 10.9, 4.7, and 4.6 mg N/g, respectively. These results are expected to be useful to design and produce hydrogles with target performance.


This Material Is Based upon Work Supported by the National Science Foundation: Grant No. 1826920 (MRI: Acquisition of Total Organic Carbon/Total Nitrogen Analyzer for Interdisciplinary Research and Teaching at Georgia Gwinnett College). Disclaimer: ​ANY OPINIONS, FINDINGS, and CONCLUSIONS or RECOMMENDATIONS EXPRESSED in THIS MATERIAL ARE THOSE of the AUTHORS and DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT the VIEWS of the NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION. ​

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