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Analytical chemistry, Environmental sciences, Water resources, Nano-materials
The lack of clean and safe drinking water is responsible for more deaths than war, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction combined. This suggests contaminated water poses a significant threat to human health and welfare. In addition, standard water disinfection approaches such as sedimentation, filtration, and chemical or biological degradation are not fully capable of destroying emerging contaminants (e.g. pesticides, pharmaceutical waste products) or certain types of bacteria (e.g. Cryptosporidium parvum). Nanomaterials and nanotechnology based devices can potentially be employed to solve the challenges posed by various contaminants and microorganisms. Nanomaterials of different shapes, namely nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanowires and fibers have the ability to function as adsorbents and catalysts. These possess an expansive array of physicochemical characteristics deeming them highly attractive for the production of reactive media for water membrane filtration, a vital step in the production of potable water. As a result of their exceptional adsorptive capacity for water contaminants, graphene based nanomaterials have emerged as an area of significant importance in the area of membrane filtration and water treatment. In addition, Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs) together with or without sources of light irradiation or ultrasound, have been found to be promising alternatives for water treatment at near ambient temperature and pressure. Furthermore, the uses of visible light active titanium dioxide photocatalysts and photo-Fenton processes have shown significant potential for water purification. A wide variety of nanomaterial based sensors, for the monitoring of water quality, have also been reviewed in detail. In conclusion, the rapid and continued growth in the area of nanomaterial based devices offers significant hope for addressing future water quality challenges.
Whelan, A. M et al. (2015) Nanotechnology Solutions for Global Water Challenges. Ch. 18 in Water Challenges and Solutions on a Global Scale, Loganathan et al, ACS Symposium Series, Washington DC, American Chemical Society, 2015.