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Northrop Grumman Engineering & Science Student Design Showcase


This project demonstrates that Elodea canadensis, a common aquatic plant, can absorb silver cations and silver nanoparticles from its environment. E. canadensis was chosen for study because it is a model aquatic plant for measuring toxicity. Exposures of E. canadensis to concentrations of silver nitrate ≤ 100 mg/L and silver nanoparticles ≤ 30 mg/L were monitored for one week. Phytotoxicity was determined based on changes in photosynthetic pigment levels and silver uptake by the plant. Silver nanoparticles are toxic at concentrations greater than 20 mg/L while silver cations are toxic at concentrations of 30 mg/L. These results are significant in two ways. (1) E. canadensis can absorb silver cations and nanoparticles, suggesting their use for heavy metal decontamination of aquatic environments. (2) The sensitivity of E. canadensis to nanoparticles raises concerns about the safe and ethical use of nanoparticles.


Kurt Winkelmann, Andrew Palmer

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