Even though they occur in wastewater in very low concentrations, micropollutants released to the environment Professor Davide Mattia. Source: University of BathProfessor Davide Mattia. Source: University of Bathfrom treatment plants can accumulate in soil and water and impact food chains. Available treatment schemes are not capable of eliminating these contaminants, typically derived from pesticides and pharmaceuticals.

The use of light via photocatalysis to degrade such organic pollutants appears promising, but large amounts of nano-sized photocatalyst particles are needed to address the vast volumes of water to be treated. Such use also poses the risk of releasing these particles to the environment.

A safer approach replaces nanoparticles with a highly porous photocatalytic foam. The process engineered at the University of Bath, UK, effectively removes micropollutants from water without increasing their carbon footprint. The highly porous anodic metal foam captures micropollutants, which are then broken down into harmless organic compounds by sunlight.

Lead researcher Professor Davide Mattia from the University of Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering has been awarded a five-year Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Established Career Fellowship in Water Engineering to advance the development of this technology.

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