Exciting new material uses solar energy to remove human-made dye pollutants from water

A novel composite material has been developed by scientists in the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University which shows promise as a catalyst for the degradation of environmentally-harmful synthetic dye pollutants, which are released at a rate of nearly 300,000 tonnes a year into the world's water.

This novel, non-hazardous photocatalytic material effectively removes dye pollutants from water, adsorbing more than 90 % of the dye and enhancing the rate of dye breakdown by almost ten times using visible light.

The researchers, led by Dr. Charles W. Dunnill and Dr. Daniel Jones at the Energy Safety Research Institute in Swansea University, reported their discovery in the Nature open access journal Scientific Reports.

By heating the reaction mixture at high pressures inside a sealed container, the composite is synthesized by growing ultra-thin "nanowires" of tungsten oxide on the surface of tiny particles of tantalum nitride. As a result of the incredibly small size of the two material components -- both the tantalum nitride and tungsten oxide are typically less than 40 billionths of a metre in diameter -- the composite provides a huge surface area for dye capture.

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