Researchers have found a way to more effectively treat wastewater using a process similar to photosynthesis
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Spotted: Industrial emissions are a major polluter of the world’s aquatic environments, as is waste from the chemical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Once water is contaminated, it is difficult and costly to remove pollutants, and today 80 per cent of global wastewater goes untreated.
Now, an international research team has developed a new ‘solar’ catalyst based on molybdenum sulfide that can be used to treat contaminated water.
A photocatalyst is a substance that accelerates chemical reactions with the aid of light. In this wastewater context, the catalyst is added to water containing polluting compounds and shone with ultraviolet light or sunlight. This causes the harmful compounds in the water to decompose into safe substances. This process is called photocatalytic degradation and the researchers compare it to photosynthesis – a reaction many are familiar with from primary school science classes.
Photocatalytic degradation has minimal man-made impact on the environment as it uses only natural sunlight in addition to the catalyst. The new material the researchers have developed is much more effective as a catalyst, improving the efficiency of this ‘green’ treatment method. The researchers emphasise that the new material is more than 10 times more effective than many similar materials of the same class.
The project was an international collaboration between researchers from The National University of Science and Technology MISiS (NUST MISiS) and Far Eastern Federal University—both in Russia—as well as Fudan University, China, and Tokai University, Japan.
Written by: Matthew Hempstead