A researcher from the UdG proposes an alternative for the treatment of arsenic- polluted waters

Raquel Güell has studied the use of different types of functionalized membranes to separate arsenic and chromium species from water. In her doctoral thesis she has also developed a new method based on optical and electrochemical sensors to monitor hexavalent chromium, copper, cadmium and lead in polluted waters.

The problem of water naturally polluted with arsenic (As) is a major concern in many areas of the world, where the treatment systems most often used to eliminate arsenic from water are based on precipitation or adsorption. Raquel Güell, a researcher from the University of Girona (UdG), has demonstrated that membrane systems activated by specific molecules can be a good alternative.

The three types of membranes studied – supported liquid membranes, polymer inclusion membranes and commercial ion exchange membranes – have facilitated the quantitative elimination of inorganic species of As(V) efficiently and in a relatively short time. They have also allowed the selective separation of As(V) and As(III), which has highlighted their use in the development of analyte speciation/detection systems.

The empty fibre membrane configuration has proven to be a very useful technique for the preconcentration of chromium ions in water used in the galvanic industry, facilitating the analysis of this carcinogenic species and the reduction of the volume of polluted water. Also developed for this same species was an optical sensor selective for hexavalent chromium, or Cr(VI), which is determined by the sensor in different aqueous matrices.

In her doctoral thesis, Raquel Güell has also developed an analytical method based on screen-printed microelectrodes to monitor lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and copper (Cu). The great advantage of these electrodes is their reduced size, which facilitates the miniaturisation of the processes in the laboratory and the in situ analysis.

The researcher
Raquel Güell Martí (Anglès, 1983) graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of Girona in 2005. She has completed research stays in the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology (Bellaterra) and at the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, has published seven articles in specialised journals and has participated in various national and international conferences.

She has recently been awarded a doctoral degree for her work “Development of chemical separation processes for the treatment and monitoring of metallic cations and oxoanions in polluted waters”, which she developed in the Analytical and Environmental Chemistry research group of the UdG, under the supervision of Dr Enriqueta Anticó and Dr Clàudia Fontàs.

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