Decontaminating pesticide-polluted water using engineered nanomaterial

phys.org | 9/19/2017 | Staff
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Atrazine is one of the most widely used pesticides in North America. Researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) have developed a new method to degrade it that combines a new nanostructured material and sunlight.

Atrazine is found throughout the environment, even in the drinking water of millions of people across the country. Conventional water treatments are not effective in degrading this pesticide. Newer processes are more effective, but use chemicals that can leave toxic by-products in the environment.

Professor - My - Ali - El - Khakani

Professor My Ali El Khakani, an expert in nanostructured materials, and Professor Patrick Drogui, a specialist in electrotechnology and water treatment, have joined forces to develop a new ecological degradation process for atrazine that is as chemical-free as possible. "By working synergistically, we were able to develop a water treatment process that we would never have been able to achieve separately. This is one of the great added values of inter disciplinarity in research," says Professor El Khakani, lead author of the study, whose results are published today in the journal Catalysis Today.

The researchers use an existing process, called photoelectro-catalysis or PEC, which they have optimized for the degradation of atrazine. The process works with two photoelectrodes (light-sensitive electrodes) of opposite charges. Under the effect of light and an electrical potential, it generates free radicals on the surface of the photoelectrodes. Those radicals interact with atrazine molecules and degrade them. "The use of free radicals is advantageous because it does not leave toxic by-products as chlorine would do. They are highly reactive and unstable. As their lifetime is very short they tend to disappear quickly," explains Professor Drogui, who is a co-author of the study.

Photoelectrodes - Electrodes - Professor - El - Khakani

To make photoelectrodes (light-sensitive electrodes), Professor El Khakani chose titanium oxide (TiO2), a material that is very abundant, chemically stable, and used in many applications including...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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