Laurier professor Hind Al-Abadleh recently received an Early Research Award (ERA) from the Ontario government for her investigations into the unique performance of materials of the nanoscale (about 100-1000 times smaller than the width of the human hair), specifically the chemistry of man-made nanomaterials under conditions relevant to the energy sector and atmospheric climate.
Her current work involves the fate of arsenic components as they are introduced to soil and plants.
“We already know that parts of soil have a high affinity to arsenic,” said Al-Abadleh. “And by looking at how strong the bond is to soil, how to quantify this we can use this data to make regulations for government policies and how the fundamental science on how the affects the environment.”
The motivation for this research is large in part due to the Ontario government’s investment both into nanotechnology and into combating environmental challenges such as air and water quality, land use and waste management.
According to Al-Abadleh, the socially effective result of better regulations and more aptly placed restrictions on chemicals like arsenic will reduce the toxicity of crude fuels and waste water, leaving these materials cleaner and safer for their users and the environment.
“Our research is of great interest to the energy industry in its efforts to be socially and environmentally responsible. We will provide experimentally-based recommendations and accurate modelling tools for use on the effectiveness of nanomaterials as catalysts for fuel and waste water cleanup,” said Al-Abadleh.
She also mentioned that students funded by this award will have an opportunity to receive direct hands-on training on projects related to the chemistry of nanomaterials.
Al-Abadleh also plans to hold public discussion sessions addressing the role of chemistry and nanotechnology in making the transition to a “greener” and more sustainable future.