UCL Earth Sciences


Lisa Fuellenbach

“Understanding the mechanisms of heavy metal immobilisation is essential to expedite sustainable remediation of polluted sites. ”

PhD project title:

Iron (oxy)hydroxide aided heavy metal decontamination.

Lisa Fuellenbach
Project description:

Industrial and mine site contamination by heavy metals remains a serious problem worldwide, requiring advanced, effective and sustainable remediation techniques to be developed in order to expedite decontamination of polluted soils and aquifers.

In acid mine drainage systems, for example, the adjustment of the local geochemical environment to conditions stimulating co-precipitation and adsorption reactions to form less soluble, immobile compounds has been proven to aid toxic heavy metal immobilization. Due to their high structural amenability to the adsorption of foreign heavy metal cations, some redox active iron (oxy)hydroxides present great potential as remediation agents. The long-term stability of their precipitates and therefore possible re-mobilization of the adsorbed species, however, are yet uncertain. 

Therefore, I aim to quantify the reaction kinetics of heavy metal adsorption to iron (oxy)hydroxides and experimentally assess the stability ranges of the products under controlled, simulated field conditions. The results will help enable more accurate estimations of the efficacy of these reactants for sustainable in situ (subsurface) remediation.