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Cadmium Removal from Contaminated Soil by Nanoscale Tunable Biopolymers

Ashok Mulchandani
University of California-Riverside, Riverside, CA

Soil contamination by heavy metals is prevalent at hazardous waste sites in the United States. To remediate these sites there is a strong interest in developing novel polymeric materials that have superior affinity and selectivity because of their unique physical, chemical, and biological properties. Genetic and protein engineering have emerged as the latest tools for the construction of novel materials that can be controlled precisely at the molecular level. Previously, an elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) composed of polyhistidine tail (ELPH12) has been shown to have promising cadmium removal capability. ELP undergoes a reversible thermal precipitation within a wide range of temperature, enabling easy recovery of the sequestered cadmium. Our goal in this study is to further investigate the feasibility of utilizing ELP biopolymers for both ex situ and in situ soil cadmium remediation application. Different metal-binding domains will be incorporated to investigate the efficiency of cadmium removal from contaminated soil.

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