Researchers from Rice University developed titanium dioxide nanoparticles embedded mat that can adsorb and destroy pollutants from contaminated water
Contaminated water is major concern, as it results into various health issues. Researchers are trying to clean polluted water using various methods to sustain the aquatic life. New study reported by Rice University aims to destroy water pollutants with the help of purifier, which is developed from titanium dioxide nanoparticles embedded into polymer fibers. The filter can bind contaminants and destroy them in response to UV light. According to the team, the design is fast, safe, and more energy efficient than other systems.
Titanium dioxide is a prolific purifying material, it becomes photocatalytic when exposed to UV light, releasing reactive oxygen species (ROS) that break down contaminants. In this device, nanoparticles of titanium dioxide were embedded into a highly-porous sheet of spun polyvinyl fibers and used to remove endocrine disruptors in water. The fibers are hydrophobic and they attract the pollutants, which are also hydrophobic. After contaminants are soaked by mat, they are exposed to UV light, which triggers the photocatalytic response, oxidizing and destroying them.
The researchers believe that new technique can destroy pollutants faster using less electrical energy, when scaling it up for contaminated water. In case of dense pollution the technique allows two-step process, where the pollution is very thick and does not allow passing of light. “You can fish out the contaminants adsorbed by the mat and transfer it to another reactor with clearer water. There, you can destroy the pollutants, clean out the mat and then return it so it can fish for more,” said Pedro Alvarez, one of the authors of the study. The research was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in March 2018.