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NTU scientist develops a multi-purpose wonder material to tackle enviromental challenges
Date:3/20/2013

and for energy and food by 50 per cent and 30 per cent for drinking water (Population Institute report, titled 2030: The "Perfect Storm" Scenario).

"While there is no single silver bullet to solving two of the world's biggest challenges: cheap renewable energy and an abundant supply of clean water; our single multi-use membrane comes close, with its titanium dioxide nanoparticles being a key catalyst in discovering such solutions," Prof Sun said. "With our unique nanomaterial, we hope to be able to help convert today's waste into tomorrow's resources, such as clean water and energy."

Prof Sun's multi-use titanium dioxide can:

  1. concurrently produce both hydrogen and clean water when exposed to sunlight
  2. be made into a low-cost flexible filtration membrane that is anti-fouling
  3. desalinate water as a high flux forward osmosis membrane
  4. recover energy from waste desalination brine and wastewater
  5. be made into a low-cost flexible solar cell to generate electricity
  6. doubles battery life when used as anode in lithium ion battery
  7. kill harmful microbial, leading to new antibacterial bandages

How the wonder material was found

Prof Sun had initially used titanium dioxide with iron oxide to make anti-bacterial water filtration membranes to solve biofouling - bacterial growth which clogs up the pores of membranes, obstructing water flow.

While developing the membrane, Prof Sun's team also discovered that it could act as a photocatalyst, turning wastewater into hydrogen and oxygen under sunlight while still producing clean water. Such a water-splitting effect is usually caused by Platinum, a precious metal that is both expensive and rare.

"With such a discovery, it is possible to concurrently treat wastewater and yet have a much cheaper option of storing solar energy in the form of hydrogen so that it can be available any time, day or night, regardless of whether the s
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Contact: Lester Kok
lesterkok@ntu.edu.sg
65-679-06804
Nanyang Technological University
Source:Eurekalert  

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