Titanium Dioxide Photocatalyst: Cleaning Wastewater, Protecting The Environment
Wastewater recovery achieves double the benefits of environmental conservation, as it reduces the volume of contaminated wastewater entering the environment, while also providing an alternative source of useable water for industrial, agricultural or municipal purposes. Wastewater recovery typically uses reverse osmosis membrane technology, which results in 75-85% clean water. The remaining 15-25% is a brackish concentrate that is harmful to the environment and has to be disposed due to the high levels of organic compound.
A team from the NUS Department of Chemistry has developed an improved method of removing total organic carbon from wastewater.
The technology involves an improved titanium dioxide photocatalyst, which degrades organic substances in wastewater. The NUS team has developed an aggregate of titanium dioxide particles, with a particular structure and size. The porosity, morphology and particle size of this photocatalyst play a key role in its ability to degrade organic content.
Laboratory tests revealed that after 3 hours of photocatalytic degradation, more than 80% of the organics in the wastewater concentrate had been degraded. After 6 hours of photocatalytic degradation, the dissolved organic content reached near drinking water levels. This is five times faster than existing commercially-available photocatalysts in the market.
Applications and Advantages
This process has applications in wastewater treatment. It is able to provide additional volumes of clean water compared to other technologies, resulting in significant cost savings. For example, when applied to a semi-conductor factor, producing 3,000m2 of wastewater daily, it could result in an estimated cost savings of S$1.3 million per year. Another example is for the treatment of palm oil mill effluent (POME). Besides greatly reducing the total organic carbon by 90%, the colour of the wastewater turned from brownish to almost clear.
NUS has filed a patent on this technology and is looking for research or commercialisation partners to help bring it to market.
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