Nanoclusters Remove Dyes from Wastewater

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2024

A study from Flinders University in Australia has reportedly discovered a way to degrade and potentially remove toxic organic chemicals, such as azo dyes, from wastewater. The new process reportedly utilizes a chemical photocatalysis powered by ultraviolet light.

The research was published earlier this year in the journals Solar RRL.

About the Process

Professor Gunther Andersson, from the Flinders Institute for NanoScale Science and Technology, said the process involves creating metallic “clusters” of just nine gold (Au) atoms chemically “anchored” to titanium dioxide, which in turn drives the reaction by converting the energy of absorbed UV light.

The gold nanocluster cocatalysts then reportedly enhance the photocatalytic work of the titanium dioxide and reduce the time required to complete the reaction by a factor of six.

“These types of heterogeneous semiconductor-mediated photocatalysis systems provide a significant advantage over other advanced chemical processes,” said Andersson.

“It can facilitate the mineralization of a large range of organic pollutants, like azo dyes, into water and carbon dioxide molecules with a high degradation efficiency.”

According to the university, a variety of physical, chemical and biological processes are currently used to remove carcinogenic and recalcitrant organic compounds from water. A wide range of chemical industries release these non-biodegradable dyes into the environment, with nearly half of the dyes used classified as azo dyes.

A wide range of chemical industries, including dye manufacture, textile and cosmetics production, release toxic and non-biodegradable dyes into the environment. Nearly half of the dyes used in the textile and dye industry are azo dyes.

Azo pigments reportedly account for most of the organic red, orange and yellow pigments. In general, these pigments can be employed in oil- and water-based paints, printing ink and plastics; they are also used in the textile, food, cosmetics and other manufacturing industries.

Flinders nanotech researchers also reportedly demonstrated how the gold cluster cocatalyst and modified semiconductors for synthesis of the novel photocatalysis systems is useful in the degradation of methyl orange, a water-soluble azo dye.

Co-author Dr. Anahita Motamedisade added traditional wastewater treatment methods often do not effectively remove dangerous contaminants from wastewater.

“The reason for this is that some chemicals, especially those with aromatic rings, are resistant to chemical, photochemical and biological degradation,” said Motamedisade. “In addition, they generate dangerous by-products by oxidizing, hydrolyzing, or undergoing other chemical reactions of synthetic dyes containing wastewater, which are detectable wherever they are disposed of.

“We hope to build onto these more sustainable and thorough photocatalytic degradation processes to help completely remove the toxins and tackle this global problem.”

The research was inspired by Motamedisade’s Ph.D. research, partially funded by Wine Australia, which includes better ways to treat winery wastewater.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Coating chemistry; Colleges and Universities; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmentally friendly; Health and safety; Latin America; Nanotechnology; North America; Pigments; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Titanium dioxide; Wastewater Plants; Water/Wastewater; Z-Continents

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