Milliron X   Milliron X

Idaho INBRE Summer Research Conference: Moscow, Idaho

Measuring diffusion of protons in polyvinyalginate

  • Thomas A. Christensen II
  • Jonathan Counts
  • James G. Moberly

July 31, 2018

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a toxic and carcinogenic contaminant that presents unique challenges for cleanup because of its density and volatility. Use of microorganisms may be a promising remediation method, however metabolism of TCE results in acid buildup, which consequently impedes the ability of microorganisms to perform this remediation. Polyvinylalginate (PVA) shows promise as a useful shield for microorganisms carrying out bioremediation of TCE by surrounding them in a protective biofilm-like layer, however, key information is missing which relates diffusion of TCE or its metabolic products through PVA. To measure the effective diffusion coefficient of H+ ions through a PVA membrane cross-linked with boric acid and calcium ions, we used a modified diaphragm cell. We found the effective diffusion coefficient to be 1.40 × 10-5 ± 1.91 × 10-6 cm2 s, a nearly seven-fold decrease in diffusivity compared to protons in water, with an unexpected significant but as of yet unquantified adsorption capacity. These results suggest that polyvinylalginate is effective in slowing diffusion of protons and buffering these acids produced by trichloroethylene metabolism, and remains suitable for encapsulation of microorganisms involved in bioremediation.