Forming Bacterial Cellulose Capsules for Encapsulation and Slowed Release of Sulfate

Laurel Bitterman, Dr. Dario Prieto and Dr. Katherine Zodrow, Department of Environmental Engineering, Montana Technological University, 1300 W Park St, Butte MT 59701

The purpose of bacterial cellulose (BC) capsules is to encapsulate contaminants from aqueous environments and potentially slow the release of sulfate into water from activities like coal mining. Sulfate pollution in drinking water is harmful to human and animal health in certain concentrations. Many environmental applications of BC have been researched since the popularization of BC as a strong, malleable, and biodegradable material. Through a literature review combined with various qualitative experiments, we have implemented an inexpensive and simple method for BC capsule production. In addition to producing these capsules, an appropriate encapsulation method for solid particles has also been identified using solid particles of biochar, polystyrene microspheres, and mine waste as testing materials. The capsules were analyzed using ImageJ software to measure their size and frequency. Thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) data was used to examine the percent encapsulation of solid particles. To quantify the release of sulfate from the capsules, a photometer is used to measure sulfate release from the capsules into deionized (DI) water. TGA analysis is also being utilized to test if the BC encapsulates sulfate. Our results indicate that capsules with 7.5 mm diameters can be made in 7 days. Adding various solid particles increases the average size range of the BC capsules. The capsules encapsulated 10 – 20% of the solid particles added to the flask contents. The concentration of sulfate in the DI water as it is released from the capsules increases over time. The sulfate release results are currently being quantified with more photometer tests and we anticipate that the release of sulfate will be rapid in the first week, and then the curve will plateau with more time.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Laurel Bitterman

Institution: Montana Technological University

Type: Poster

Subject: Engineering

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4575