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Nick Zak
Nick Zak

Graduate Researcher
University of Notre Dame

Nick Zak is a master’s student at the University of Notre Dame in the Doudrick Research Group, where he investigates nanoparticle catalysts and their use in the catalytic hydrogel membrane reactor for treating aqueous contaminants. Nick earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Trine University.


Catalytic Hydrogel Membrane Reactor for the Treatment of Oxidized Contaminants in Water

The catalytic hydrogel membrane (CHMR) is a promising new, scalable process for treating oxidized contaminants in water (e.g., nitrate, TCE). The CHMR consists of a gas-permeable hollow-fiber membrane coated with an alginate hydrogel containing catalytic nanoparticles (e.g., Pd, Pd/Au). Hydrogen gas (H2) is fed through the hollow-fiber lumen and diffuses through the hydrogel, while the contaminant diffuses from the bulk solution into the hydrogel, allowing the two to react at the catalyst surface. The CHMR provides several advantages over other catalytic support systems including reduced H2 mass transfer limitations, the ability to control the reactive zone by altering the H2 pressure, and increased resilience to deactivating species. The effect of the H2 delivery method, initial reactant concentrations, catalyst density in the hydrogel, and presence of Pd deactivating species has been evaluated for the CHMR. A one-dimensional AQUASIM model was developed and calibrated to predict optimal operating and reaction conditions.

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