Scientists develop substance to kill water pollutants using solar power

Researchers at the Swansea University in the United Kingdom have developed a new non-toxic substance that can help eradicate harmful synthetic dye pollutants released into water bodies, using solar power.


Nearly 300,000 tonnes of pollutants get diffused with water in water bodies in a year. According to a report published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ the new substance removes dye pollutants from water, adsorbing more than 90 per cent of the dye and enhancing the rate of dye breakdown by almost ten times using visible light.

The reaction mixture is stored in a high-pressure sealed container and synthesised by growing ultra-thin “nanowires” of tungsten oxide on the surface of tiny particles of tantalum nitride.

The material then proceeds to break the dye down into smaller, harmless molecules using the energy provided by sunlight, in a process known as “photo-catalytic degradation.”

Having removed the harmful dyes, the catalyst may simply be filtered from the cleaned water and reused.

While the photo-catalytic degradation of dyes has been investigated for several decades, it is only relatively recently that researchers have developed materials capable of absorbing the visible part of the solar spectrum – other materials, such as titanium dioxide, are also able to break down dyes using solar energy, but their efficiency is limited as they only absorb higher energy, ultra-violet light.

By making use of a much greater range of the spectrum, the new materials are able to remove pollutants at a far superior rate.


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