Magnetic separation, one of the promising bioseparation technologies, faces the challenges in recovery and reuse of magnetic agents during algal harvesting for biofuel extraction. This study synthesized a steric acid (SA)-coated Fe3O4-ZnO nanocomposite that could shift hydrophobicity under UV365 irradiation. Our results showed that with the transition of surface hydrophobicity under UV365 irradiation, magnetic nanocomposites detached from the concentrated algal biomass. The detachment was partially induced by the oxidation of SA coating layers due to the generation of radicals (e.g., •OH) by ZnO under UV365 illumination. Consequently, the nanocomposite surface shifted from hydrophobic to hydrophilic, which significantly reduced the adhesion between magnetic particles and algae as predicted by the extended Derjaguin and Landau, Verwey, and Overbeek (EDLVO) theory. Such unique hydrophobicity shift may also find many other potential applications that require recovery, recycle, and reuse of valuable nanomaterials to increase sustainability and economically viability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- algal harvesting
- magnetic nanoparticles
- magnetophoretic separation