Researchers develop environmentally friendly denitrification technique to prevent green tide

[Courtesy of POSTECH]

SEOUL – South Korean researchers have developed an environmentally friendly denitrification technique using a photocatalyst. The technique, which converts nitrate (NO3-) and nitrite (NO2-) into nitrogen gas (N2), can be used to prevent and reduce green tides, a phenomenon also known as algae blooms caused by algae blooms. The process of using a photocatalyst is very environmentally friendly and does not require any chemical reducers.

Green tides occur in lakes and rivers in late spring and summer when the level of nitrates and nitrates in the water is very high and the temperature rises to create an ideal environment for the rapid proliferation of macroalgae. green. The phenomenon can be observed in waters where the speed of movement of fluids is very slow. The algae bloom transforms the water into a thick, slurry-like green sludge with very low levels of oxygen that slowly suffocates animals and aquatic plants to death.

Denitrification is one of the very few solutions to avoid the green tide. By eliminating nitrates, the main food source of green macroalgae, the green tide can be controlled. However, denitrification methods using chemical reducing agents can damage the environment. Normally, boats are used to help aquatic animals and plants survive in waters affected by the green tide. As the propellers rotate, water circulates to provide oxygen.

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) said in a statement on September 14 that its research team had developed the country’s first denitrification technique that does not use chemical reducers. The researchers used a photocatalyst composed of titanium oxide (TiO2), graphene oxide (rGO) and copper-lead alloy nanoparticles (Cu-Pd) to break down nitrate and nitrite into nitrogen gas and oxygen.

Through testing, the researchers found that the photocatalyst was able to completely decompose 600 parts per million (ppm) of nitrate into nitrogen with a conversion efficiency of around 98% without the use of chemical reducing agents. POSTECH said the photocatalyst created almost zero nitrite, which is a byproduct of the denitrification process using catalysts.

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