Moscow, Mar 7 : Scientists from Russia’s South Ural State University in Chelyabinsk and Spain’s University of Oviedo have developed photo-catalysts for decomposing harmful synthetic compounds, including dyes, petrochemical derivatives and phenol, and turning them into carbon dioxide and water.
The journal ‘Catalysis Daily’ published an article on this research project that promises to make a serious contribution to “green chemistry.”
Air and water pollution, as well as toxic emissions into the environment, threaten human health and wildlife. The Institute of Natural Sciences, affiliated with South Ural State University, is working on a project to develop photo-catalysts for destroying organic pollutants said Asya Samoilova, head of department of international projects centre Rossiya Segodnya.
Quite recently, the university’s specialists obtained a number of new catalysts that are sensitive to ultraviolet radiation and which are based on carbon nitride, a new and promising material.
“Synthetic organic substances, including surfactants, dyes, petrochemical derivatives and phenol, are the hardest to oxidise because nature has no microorganisms for decomposing them.
“On the contrary, photo-catalysts, developed by our scientists, can turn synthetic compounds into carbon dioxide and water contained in the planet’s atmosphere using ultraviolet radiation from special lamps or sunlight,” Dean of the chemistry department at South Ural State University's Institute of Natural Sciences Vyacheslav Avdin noted.
According to the inventors, the new materials’ selectivity has increased to 80 percent during chemical reactions designed to obtain commercial organic compounds, as compared to available equivalents (40 per cent). The data obtained made it possible to create an experimental unit and to obtain trial batches of various pharmaceutical compounds.
Today, the institute’s staff cooperates with leading universities in the US, the UK, Germany, Finland, Spain and Serbia. The university works with foreign scientists on environmental protection research projects. For example, Sakthi Dharan, PhD (Chemistry), CP, a post-doc from India, conducts research at the university.
“Over ten years of working in the field of organic synthesis, I have developed nanocomposites called carbon nanotubesy and glass-fiber reinforced composites with various thermosetting materials. I also developed three different liquid crystals. Moreover, our research [with South Ural State University] is aiming at the future possibility of creating a new type of carbonic materials (nanomaterials), which will be of interest with regard to further use in industry (and namely in production processes in organic synthesis, treatment of liquids and gases, creation of membranes, use of membranes for gas separation),” he said.
The students take an active part in research projects. Their involvement allows the University to train skilled specialists who will eventually implement them. These students are majoring in such degree programmes as Environmental Safety and Ecology/Nature Management.