Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Photocatalytic water treatment - development of immobilized catalysts and compact reactor systems

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.04.03  Natural sciences and mathematics  Chemistry  Inorganic chemistry 
2.20.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Hydrology   

Code Science Field
P003  Natural sciences and mathematics  Chemistry 

Code Science Field
1.04  Natural Sciences  Chemical sciences 
2.07  Engineering and Technology  Environmental engineering  
TiO2 photocatalyst, Al2O3 carrier, modular photocatalytic reactor, water treatment, organic micropollutants
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (23)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  08387  PhD Iztok Arčon  Physics  Researcher  2019 - 2022  762 
2.  39105  MSc Barbara Brajer Humar  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  28 
3.  16256  PhD Romana Cerc Korošec  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2022  332 
4.  21628  PhD Nataša Čelan Korošin  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2022  66 
5.  28223  PhD Ana Drmota Petrič  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2022  28 
6.  52125  Tjaša Gornik  Chemistry  Technical associate  2019 - 2020  25 
7.  51076  Damir Hamulić  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2019 - 2020  24 
8.  12315  PhD Ester Heath  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2019 - 2022  588 
9.  27733  PhD Tina Kosjek  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2019 - 2022  351 
10.  31233  PhD Nataša Kovačević  Chemistry  Researcher  2021 - 2022  45 
11.  39144  PhD Ana Kovačič  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2021 - 2022  58 
12.  11873  PhD Urška Lavrenčič Štangar  Chemistry  Head  2019 - 2022  545 
13.  39103  PhD Marjetka Levstek  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  86 
14.  27730  Andrej Likar  Manufacturing technologies and systems  Researcher  2021 - 2022 
15.  32417  PhD Mitja Linec  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2019  17 
16.  33865  PhD Lev Matoh  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2022  48 
17.  24724  PhD Branka Mušič  Civil engineering  Researcher  2019 - 2020  105 
18.  33427  PhD Peter Rodič  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2022  144 
19.  51112  Ana Skvarča  Chemistry  Researcher  2021 
20.  08273  PhD Marjetka Stražar  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  81 
21.  39723  Rok Šinkovec  Chemistry  Researcher  2021 
22.  34546  PhD Andraž Šuligoj  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2022  104 
23.  38180  PhD Boštjan Žener  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2022  39 
Organisations (5)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0103  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology  Ljubljana  1626990  23,043 
2.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  88,083 
3.  1540  University of Nova Gorica  Nova Gorica  5920884000  13,845 
4.  1682  KOLEKTOR MOBILITY Upravljanje naložb d.o.o. (Slovene)  Idrija  5034558  250 
5.  3707  JAVNO PODJETJE CENTRALNA ČISTILNA NAPRAVA DOMŽALE - KAMNIK d.o.o. (Slovene)  Domžale  5227747000  111 
Water is one of the most important ingredients for life and has a huge impact on all aspects of living beings, including health, energy, and food. The discharge of antibiotics, solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, additives, or other pollutants found in food, pharmaceutical products and products for personal care inevitably leads to the pollution of the natural aquatic environment. Biological treatment, chemical precipitation and coagulation, thermal treatment/incineration, adsorption, ion exchange, treatment with mud and other processing techniques have been developed as techniques to remove pollutants from water. However, in the case of recalcitrant organic pollutants these techniques are less effective or even ineffective. As a result, some of the substances are present in higher concentrations in central treatment plants and thus pose a threat to their proper operation, especially to the biological treatment part. In addition, many of them are only partially removed, and thus pass through mud or water into the environment where they have adverse effects on ecosystems. It is necessary, therefore, to develop new water cleaning technologies that would additionally clean the water before discharge. Cleaning procedures must be cost-efficient enough for large-scale wastewater treatment. When cleaning recalcitrant substances from water, we increasingly use advanced oxidation processes, of which photocatalysis is a very promising technique that utilizes semiconductors (e.g. TiO2) as catalysts. The process of photocatalysis can completely mineralize (convert to CO2 and water) all organic pollutants and pathogenic microorganisms, thus making water safe for release into the natural environment or even for drinking. Thus, it has the potential to reduce the negative man-made impacts on water bodies and related ecosystems, it can remove pesticides that flow into the groundwater in agricultural areas and, in areas with a lack of drinking water, it can enable its safe reuse. Photocatalytic materials have already been well researched, and effective implementation of the technology requires efficient reactor systems that will enable their use. Thus, the goal of this project is to develop a modular photocatalytic reactor system for the treatment of wastewater or for the preparation of drinking water. In the reactor, the TiO2-based catalyst will be attached to the inert carrier (Al2O3, glass) in different geometries (monoliths or small balls) because immobilization reduces the possibility of the transfer of nanoparticles of the catalyst into the aquatic environment and makes regeneration easier. The catalysts will be activated using UV LED lamps that are more compact and have a better conversion of electricity into the light than the conventional UV lamps. The project is divided into three main parts: (i) the preparation and testing of an immobilized photocatalyst, (ii) the construction of a reactor system, and (iii) the testing of the reactor system in model and real wastewater. The project proposal thus represents a further step in the implementation of promising photocatalytic technology that has been proven to work. With the help of an industrial partner and a central treatment plant, we will develop and produce a prototype of the photocatalytic reactor and verify its operation in the final phase on the actual wastewater. It will also be crucial to prove that the photocatalyst and other materials in the reactor do not detach in the water and the water is ultimately pure.
Significance for science
The field of photocatalysis for the purpose of water purification is faced with a flood of scientific articles on new, improved catalytic materials, which are in-depth characterized with powerful research equipment and their activity in laboratory reactors can be well determined. For the latter purpose, aqueous solutions of model pollutants, most often different dyes or phenols, are used. In order to exploit the potential of a range of established and new photocatalytic materials, which are the basis for the drive of scientific progress, we need to take a step further. The efficiency of the implementation of photocatalytic technology in reactor systems for the purification of real water, contaminated with persistent emerging pollutants, is lagging behind the development of materials. The project we are proposing will contribute a piece to cut down this backlog. The development of a powerful modular reactor system for removing micropollutants from water, as well as the development of photocatalytic materials, is of great importance for science and the profession. In doing so, an interdisciplinary approach and integration with foreign research groups, which are listed in the third point of the application form, is necessary. UL FKKT (principal applicant organization) employee and member of the project team dr. Andraž Šuligoj is currently a Fulbright visiting scholar with a five-month project at the University of Cincinnati at prof. Dionysiou, one of the leading world scientists in the field of photocatalytic decomposition involving micopollutants. In this area, we also cooperate with the University of Zagreb (current bilateral project), while we will continue to work with the group at the University of Padua to characterize the catalysts. The project will contribute to new knowledge in the field of photocatalytic water purification and will enable even more joint scientific publications, which will be more focused on innovative solutions in the construction of the reactor systems and testing their effectiveness in the removal of increasingly troublesome compounds, the so-called “contaminants of emerging concern” (CEC).
Significance for the country
Concern Kolektor is active in three branches: automotive technology, energetics and industrial technology, and building technology & home appliances. Its strategy from 2015 to 2019 in the SWOT analysis of Energy and Industrial Techniques under the "Opportunities" expects, among other things, an increased importance of ecology which will lead to the development of new products and services and the development of new materials and technologies. The proposed project aims to develop an efficient reactor system for complementary (photocatalytic) wastewater treatment and, consequently, better water management, which coincides with Kolektor strategy. Until 2000, Kolektor operated as a highly specialized company in a very narrow niche market - the production of commutators for DC motors, where it still remains the world's largest producer. Since the production of commutators did not enable further growth, a diversification of the production program was necessary and Kolektor started to enter new niches. For this purpose, Kolektor regularly monitors the opportunities arising from the increased importance of ecology and the development of new materials and technologies, which is also the goal of the present project proposal. They are active also in the area to which the project relates. For water purification technologies, they currently offer physicochemical processes: filtration, ultrafiltration, ion exchange and reverse osmosis. Kolektor is aware that investing in green technologies is vital for the future. Therefore, they are constantly seeking new opportunities in advanced technologies that can improve existing processes. The use of photocatalysis for water purification can be an addition to other cleaning systems and is intended for the complete disinfection and removal of persistent organic pollutants, such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dyes... It is most efficient, if it is used as the final step in the purification process after the primary and secondary cleaning processes. Photocatalysis thus represents a technologically advanced addition to water purification systems, and the integration of the Central Waste Water Treatment Plant Domžale - Kamnik into the project is also logical. Production technologies and the use of photocatalysts in new reactor systems for water treatment are extremely interesting for both companies. They represent one of the best ways to maintain the water quality and the environment in times when access to clean drinking water is becoming an increasing problem in the world. We can therefore expect an increased interest in photocatalysis and similar technologies. This is why co-operation in applied research in this field is of utmost importance for Kolektor, as this enables a timely entry into niches that can arise as a result of newly developed technologies. The cooperation of applicant research organization with both companies has already been established through various analytical measurements carried out for both parties.
Most important scientific results Interim report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report
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