Heterogeneous catalysts that accelerate the photolytic destruction of organic contaminants in water are a potentially inexpensive and highly effective way to remove both trace-level and saturated harmful compounds from industrial waste streams and drinking water. Porous photocatalytic materials can have the combined qualities of high surface area and relatively large particle sizes, as compared with nanoparticulate catalyst powders like titanium dioxide . The larger particle sizes of the porous materials facilitate catalyst removal from a solution, after purification has taken place.
We have synthesized new kinds of photocatalytic porous oxide materials that can be used to purify contaminated water by accelerating the photodegradation of any kind of organic pollutant. The new materials have very large open pore structures that facilitate the diffusion, the surface contact of contaminants, and solvent flow through the catalyst. These qualities enhance surface reactions important to the process. The new catalysts have shown robust physical and chemical properties that make them candidates for real applications in polluted water decontamination.