Project Objectives

The aim of the present project entitled “Photocatalytic removal of organic micro-pollutants from the aqueous phase using TiO2 coupled with graphene as a photocatalyst (PhotoGraph)” is to develop simple and efficient methods for synthesizing TiO2 catalysts coupled with graphene, and to study their photocatalytic performance under solar radiation for the degradation of various emerging organic pollutants. Graphene has been chosen because it is a new interesting material with exceptional and outdating properties, isolated for the first time in 2004.

General Objectives of the project

  • Develop innovative, cheap and non-hazardous materials that can be employed to establish a sustainable water and wastewater treatment method, based on solar driven heterogeneous TiO2 photocatalysis for the degradation of emerging organic pollutants, thus reducing the energy fingerprint of the Euro-Mediterranean basin.
  • Prevent the deterioration of water quality and promote the sustainable management of water resources, thus facilitating the implementation of Water Framework Directive and the protection of inland waters and seawater, including flora, fauna and potentially human beings from xenobiotics.
  • Bridge the gap between laboratory scale research and technical scale application demonstrating the proposed method of solar photocatalysis in a pilot unit.
  • Promote the cooperation of the involved research institutions and the small enterprise that have significant experience in the specific field, thus safeguarding high level work, both in terms of research and technology.
  • Communicate and disseminate the project objectives, methodology, findings and new insights obtained. The project results are expected to contribute to the implementation, update and development of environmentally friendly practices and policies and to the incorporation of environmental research to decisions related to sustainable development in Cyprus.

Specific Scientific Objectives of the project

  • Synthesize TiO2 - graphene composite photocatalysts through a number of simple and inexpensive techniques based on graphene coupling with TiO2.
  • Characterize the aforementioned catalysts in terms of particle and surface properties utilizing various techniques, and to measure their toxicity.
  • Test the photocatalytic efficiency of the aforementioned materials for the degradation of various emerging organic contaminants, such as the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole, the synthetic estrogen 17α-ethynylestradiol, the iodinated x-ray contrast media diatrizoate, and the illicit drug cocaine, in aqueous solutions.
  • Construct a pilot unit to enhance catalyst recovery and re-usability.
  • Correlate differences in relative catalyst activity to differences in materials properties.