Scientists harness sunlight to break down wastewater in 20 minutes

Chemists in Australia claim to have found an alternative to ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection technologies which they claim is 15 times more efficient...

Content Dam Ww Online Articles 2017 03 Aus Sunlight

CANBERRA, Australia - Chemists in Australia claim to have found an alternative to ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection technologies which they claim is 15 times more efficient.

The research group from Australian National University (ANU) have developed a system that uses modified titanium dioxide as a photocatalyst that works with sunlight.

Research group leader Professor Yun Liu said the photocatalyst can completely decompose organic pollutants in wastewater in 20 minutes.

The team added nitrogen and niobium ions in pairs into the titanium dioxide to improve its performance as a photocatalyst.

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.

The university has filed a provisional patent covering the discovery, which involved the design strategy, chemical composition and manufacturing approach.

ANU said 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”.

Professor Yun Liu said: "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…our photocatalyst, compared with the leading commercilised products which take one hour to decompose only 26 percent of the same pollutants."

The research is published in Advanced Materials.

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