Water Decontamination through the use of Photocatalysts

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Dr. Peter Smirniotis and collaborators with his lab have a way to photocatalytically degrade organic compounds by zeolite and/or mesoporous material hosted photocatalysts which is particularly useful in treating water contaminated with a number of organics. Contaminated water is a growing problem in many areas of the world. Others have used ultraviolet light radiation to eliminate organic compounds in water but none have been commercially viable. For high rates of reactions a broad surface area is necessary so slurries have been used this method does not allow for the cost efficient recovery of the photocatalyst. To combat this problem other solutions have included immobilizing the photocatalyst on a support structure. This however has a number of problems including not being efficient because of lack of uniformity. Finally with either of the current methods the rate of chemical destruction is reduced because of mass transfer problems. The UC research has lead to a process for the treatment of water by using a semiconductor photocatalyst and visible light which overcomes these problems.


1) It can be used for very broad spectrum of organic compounds (dozens of different families). 2) It can be applied for both aqueous and gaseous phases. The photocatalysts work with the visible part of the spectrum so they can operate with solar radiation creating a high energy savings. The photocatalysts are non-selective so they will completely mineralize the reactants to inocous products.

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