University of South Carolina, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2018
Interactions between Nanomaterials and HDPE Geomembranes Found in MSW and Leachate
Engineered nanomaterial (ENM) production and subsequent incorporation in consumer products is increasing. Many of the products used each day contain ENMs, including textiles, cosmetics, and electronics. There are concerns associated with the best way to manage these products when they reach the end of their useful life. There are no current regulations governing the disposal of products containing ENMs. In the US, it is likely that when these products reach the end of their useful life they will be discarded with other residential/commercial wastes, and ultimately be placed in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. Thus, it is important to evaluate whether MSW landfills and leachate treatment/storage ponds are capable of containing these nanoparticles and are therefore capable of serving as appropriate end-of-life (EOL) depositories for products that contain them.
Vu’s research will investigate interactions between ENMs and the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) geomembranes, which are used to create impermeable barriers between the landfill leachate and the surrounding ground, thus protecting the subsurface from landfill-related groundwater contamination. Understanding these interactions is necessary to determine whether current solid waste/leachate management systems are designed to function as effective EOL depositories for these products. Therefore, the main goal of this research is to conduct experiments to understand the implications associated with ENM-geomembrane interactions.
The specific objectives of this work include:
- Conduct laboratory-scale experiments to evaluate the potential for some popular ENMs (e.g., single walled carbon nanotubes, fullerene, TiO2, and silver nanoparticles) to influence antioxidant diffusion and polymer oxidation of a commercially available HDPE geomembrane.
- Conduct laboratory-scale experiments to understand how changes in leachate composition influence ENM and geomembrane interactions.
Kien Vu was born and grew up in Hanoi, Vietnam. He obtained a B.E. degree in Environmental Engineering from Hanoi University of Technology (HUT) in 2009, and a M.S. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Florida State University (FSU) in 2015. In August 2018, he began his doctoral studies in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Carolina. His research at USC will focus on understanding implications associated with the placement of engineered nanomaterials in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills.