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Development of electrochemical sensors used in the electrochemical detection of BTEXs in petroleum wastewater self-fed by a microbial fuel cell: BTEXs detection, treatment and energy production

Grant number: 21/12866-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2022
Effective date (End): July 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Analytical Chemistry
Principal Investigator:Adalgisa Rodrigues de Andrade
Grantee:João Carlos de Souza
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:14/50945-4 - INCT 2014: National Institute for Alternative Technologies of Detection, Toxicological Evaluation and Removal of Micropollutants and Radioactivies, AP.TEM


Petroleum wastewater is the largest amount of waste generated in the oil and natural gas industries. It is estimated that for every barrel of oil produced, at least 3 to 10 barrels of residual petroleum water are generated. Petroleum wastewater is made up of a mixture of different organic and inorganic compounds. Among the organic compounds, we can highlight the phenols, thiophenes and the BTEXs (formed by Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzenes and Xylenes) which have high toxicity. Due to the increasing production of oil and natural gas worldwide, the volume and discharge of petroleum waste water has increased considerably, causing contamination of the environment as a whole, and has lately become a matter of significant concern to regulatory agencies in the area of health and the environment. For these reasons, major research efforts have focused on monitoring, detecting, quantifying and treating this waste. In this context, the development of a detection system for these self-sustainable contaminants fed by a microbial fuel cell (MCC) system proves to be a very attractive and promising alternative. In this way, it is possible to aggregate in a single system electric energy generation, detection, quantification and monitoring of different classes of compounds in petroleum wastewater. Through CCM it is possible to carry out the degradation and treatment of various compounds present in this matrix via the action of microorganisms. Thus, the generated bioelectricity can be used as a power source for electrochemical sensors or biosensors coupled to the CCM structure, thus generating a device with self-powered sensors or biosensors. Electrochemical sensors or biosensors, developed by modifying electrodes, can be an excellent alternative for the detection, quantification and monitoring of several compounds present in different matrices with reliable, fast, easy-to-handle and low-cost responses. Furthermore, they allow the development of more robust analytical methods, with high performance and portability. Thus, through the construction of a device combining the CCM with electrochemical sensors coupled to its structure, it is possible to simultaneously carry out the degradation, treatment and electrochemical quantification of several compounds, such as BTEXs, present in wastewater samples of oil. Therefore, this project aims primarily to develop an electrochemical method for the determination and quantification of BTEXs in petroleum wastewater, through the construction of an electrochemical sensor, obtained by modifying the surface of a carbon electrode printed with phosphorene and molecularly printed polymers (MIPs). Subsequently, a CCM will be investigated for the production of electrical energy, treatment and degradation of highly toxic organic compounds, such as BTEXs, present in petroleum wastewater. As a final stage of the project, it is proposed to couple the two systems to develop and obtain a system with self-powered electrochemical sensors, for the determination, quantification, treatment and degradation of BTEXs in petroleum wastewater. The efficiency of the detection and treatment system will be evaluated by analyzing the physicochemical composition, toxicity and mutagenicity of petroleum wastewater samples before and after treatment in the CCM. (AU)

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