Sunlight can purify wastewater cheaper than commercial products
Chemists at the Australian National University (ANU) have found a way to use sunlight to purify wastewater rapidly and cheaply, and to make self-cleaning materials for buildings.
The technology uses modified titanium dioxide as a photocatalyst that works with sunlight, unlike other leading water purification products on the market that need ultraviolet light.
The research is published in Advanced Materials, and group leader Professor Yun Liu from ANU said the team's invention was 15 times more efficient than leading commercialised products. "With innovative chemistry design, we can use our photocatalyst to purify water with natural sunlight instead of UV light and dramatically reduce costs for operators," said Liu, from the ANU Research School of Chemistry.
"Our photocatalyst can completely decompose organic pollutants in wastewater in 20 minutes, compared with the leading commercialised products which take one hour to decompose only 26% of the same pollutants."
The new technology could be useful for treating water for human consumption and has potential applications in making self-cleaning building materials, including glass, and splitting water to make hydrogen fuel.
Photocatalysts can also be used to speed up chemical reactions used in industrial processes in automotive, construction, environmental, medical and other sectors. The team added nitrogen and niobium ions in pairs into the titanium dioxide to improve its performance as a photocatalyst.
Liu said: "It's an important breakthrough for science and industry, With four years of work done in this area we now understand the science, and can rationally design catalysts."
ANU conducted the research in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of New South Wales, Western Sydney University, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
ANU has filed a provisional patent covering the discovery, which involved the design strategy, chemical composition and manufacturing approach.
- Northumbrian: 'Source to tap' approach reduces water discolouration In a move to further improve drinking water quality across its network and drive innovation nationwide, Northumbrian Water... Read More >
- Cacti 'guts' clean contaminated water, say researchers The inner guts of cacti can be used to purify contaminated water for drinking and other uses, according to researchers at... Read More >
- Cleanergy's GasBox makes wastewater treatment plant debut The Jesenice wastewater treatment plant in north-west Slovenia is using Cleanergy's GasBox CHP system to generate... Read More >
- Refining water quality management As part of our Utility of the Future campaign, Nadine Buddoo looks at why maintaining water quality is a fundamental... Read More >
- Delivering a smart network Tom Mills, senior director UK&I at Sensus, examines what a smart water network really means - and how to get there. Read More >
- Achieving zero interruptions and leakage Rik Gunderson, UK utility director at Software AG, looks ahead to WWT's Water Industry Innovation Conference. Read More >
- Revolutionising infrastructure Gavin Stonard, engineering director at nmcn, examines whether standardisation is the solution to digital transformation in... Read More >
- Digital technologies ready to impact water industry efficiency ABB's UK water manager for drives, Clayton Mead, shares some ideas on tackling water industry challenges in 2020 and... Read More >