Solar photocatalysis process employed for inactivation of microorganisms and removal of micro-contaminants in air and sewage via photocatalytic nanomaterials.
The present practice relates to the development of smart surfaces with photocatalytic properties that can be applied for the degradation and inactivation of pathogenic microorganisms contained in water, wastewater and air. The Transparent Conductive Materials (TCM) group of the national Foundation of Research and Technology (FORTH) developed the good practice for the defense of public health, given the significant microbial infection in water and wastewater and its recorded resistance to various processing methods. The proposed nanotechnology overrides the conventional chlorination methods, mainly because it does not burden water and treated waste with toxic by-products. In addition, based on extensive experience from group’s previous studies, photocatalytic materials can inactivate a wide variety of pathogenic microorganisms that are important and dangerous to public health, which are particularly resistant to conventional disinfection methods such as chlorination or UV radiation. Appropriate treatments and additional ingredients (eg minerals) carried out at FORTH, can be activated in the presence of sunlight with extremely efficient rates of isolation of pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria, parasites, viruses). The current nanotechnology has been applied for the treatment of air-pollution with exceptional results. Lab and large-scale project have proven the effectiveness of this technology in wastewater and is currently been testing in-situ for wastewater remediation.
The TCM group was financed by European funds to develop research on synthesizing and testing in lab scale the materials. It is a cost-site-dependent process, which requires ~20k euro for the funding of a lab team for the developing of the materials and the equipment to do the analysis in-situ.
Evidence of success
The group developed original research that increased the existing knowledge of treating contamination via nano-remediation. The nanomaterials as hybrid coatings were tested in in-situ pilot scale projects for the decontamination of air pollution in Stalida tunnel and a clinic center of Greek Army with profound results. Impressive results so far (in lab and large scale) for the inactivation of pathogenic microbes contained in wastewater. Currently in situ decontamination of sewage is under way.
The challenges for implementing this solution may arise only on technical barriers to limit the effectiveness of the nanoremedial techniques, such as high levels of contaminants, lack of sunlight etc.
Potential for learning or transfer
This nanotechnology is published and can be implemented for the treatment of various environmentally polluted conditions. The good practice offers a learning potential for SMEs in the nanoremedial sector but it could be interesting for other sectors as well. It is a standardized methodology for nanoremediation of air and wastewater in lab and larger scale. In a large scale, has been utilized by the Technical University of Crete camp for wastewater testing. When will be tested successfully in in-situ remediation for wastewater, apart from air (in situ public pilot project in a tunnel), TCM’s materials can be incorporated in the market for the effective decontamination of sewages and also can be to raise awareness to novel nanoremediation techniques and their benefits. It can be used by public authorities, i.e. DEYA and generally the managing sewage and drainage water companies, for reuse of water. Finally, the nanoremediation of infected soils is planned to be tested.
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