Photocatalytic Foams for Organic Micropollutant DegradationĀ 

When: 29 March 2022, 15:00 GMT

The presence of micropollutants – pharmaceuticals, pesticides, phthalates and hormones – in water is a major global health and environmental challenge. Conventional wastewater processes are not capable of effectively removing these compounds, often found at very low concentrations, Āµg L-1 or even ng L-1, leading to their discharge in surface and ground water. Photocatalytic processes, while effective at removing micropollutants, have not yet been deployed at industrial scale due to cost and safety concerns associated with the potential leaching of nanoparticle slurries on one hand, and the low activity of immobilized photocatalyst configurations on the other.

In this presentation I will discuss our work to address these twin challenges by developing novel photocatalytic foams, whose activity is given by the material itself rather than grafted nanomaterials, as previously done. Our initial work focused on sintering ZnO microparticles to obtain porous self-supporting foams [1]. We have tested these foams in batch, recirculating batch and single pass reactor configurations, obtaining performances comparable to slurries. Since then, we have developed ā€˜molecular foamsā€™, continuously interconnected porous structures, starting from metal oxide compounds, and we are now exploring 3D printing for photocatalytic foams.

[1]        T. Tasso Guaraldo, J. Wenk, and D. Mattia, “Photocatalytic ZnO Foams for Micropollutant Degradation,” Advanced Sustainable Systems, p. 2000208, 2021, doi:

Thais T. Guaraldo, Zachary Warren, Alysson Martins, Jannis Wenk, Davide Mattia, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bath, Bath, BA27AY UK 

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Photo of speaker Davide Mattia

Davide Mattia, FIChemE, CEng, is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath. He earned a MEng in Materials Engineering in 2002 from the University ā€˜Federico II, Napoli, Italy, and a PhD in Materials Engineering from Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA, in 2007. He joined Bath in 2008 as a Lecturer and was promoted to a full professor in 2016. His current research focuses on using membranes to address environmental challenges, including the sustainable manufacturing of materials and the removal of organic micropollutants from water. He is a past Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow and currently holds an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship in Water Engineering, and is the PI of the new EPSRC Programme Grant SynHiSel. He serves as Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Engineering and Design at the University of Bath.

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