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High-tech materials purify water with sunlight
Date:3/16/2014

DALLAS, March 16, 2014 Sunlight plus a common titanium pigment might be the secret recipe for ridding pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other potentially harmful pollutants from drinking water. Scientists combined several high-tech components to make an easy-to-use water purifier that could work with the world's most basic form of energy, sunlight, in a boon for water purification in rural areas or developing countries.

The talk was one of more than 10,000 presentations at the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, taking place here through Thursday.

Anne Morrissey, Ph.D., explained that the new technology could someday be incorporated into an easy-to-use consumer product that would remove these stubborn pollutants from drinking water as a final step after it has already been treated with conventional methods.

Her group at Dublin City University in Ireland started with a compound called titanium dioxide (TiO2), a powder used to whiten paints, paper, toothpaste, food and other products. With the right energy, TiO2 can also act as a catalyst a molecule that encourages chemical reactions breaking down unwanted compounds in drinking water like pesticides and pharmaceuticals. Morrissey explained that modifying current water treatment methods to get rid of these potentially harmful species can be costly and energy-intensive, and often, these modifications don't completely eliminate the pollutants.

But Morrissey said TiO2 is usually only activated by ultraviolet light, which is produced by special bulbs. To access titanium dioxide's properties with the sun's light, Morrissey and her group experimented with different shapes of TiO2 that would better absorb visible light. She found that nanotubes about 1,000 times thinner than a human hair were best, but they couldn't do it on their own.

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Contact: Michael Bernstein
214-853-8005 (Dallas Press Center, March 14-19)
202-872-6042
m_bernstein@acs.org

Contact: Katie Cottingham, Ph.D.
214-853-8005 (Dallas Press Center, March 14-19)
301-775-8455
k_cottingham@acs.org

American Chemical Society


Source:Eurekalert

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