Alternative Water Resources Prize

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Dr. Polycarpos Falaras (National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos”, Athens, Greece and coordinator of the European Union’s CLEANWATER Project).

The prize is awarded to Dr. Falaras for his development of a novel water detoxification technology by taking advantage of solar light and advanced titania photocatalysts combined with ceramic and composite membranes.

This is an innovative and efficient water detoxification technology exploiting solar energy and nano-engineered titania photocatalysts in combination with nanofiltration membranes for the destruction of extremely hazardous toxins and pollutants in natural waters and water supplies.

Conventional membrane technologies to remove pathogens and toxins from drinking water rely exclusively on the physical separation (i.e., ‘‘sieving’’) of pathogenic microorganisms and other contaminants. In particular, the concentrate stream, which can be a significant percentage of the volume of treated water, will contain active pathogenic microorganisms. This waste stream can impose a serious threat to the receiving stream or site of discharge if not further treated.

The new technology, by contrast, by focusing on advanced oxidation processes with global environmental applications, brings about the photocatalytic degradation of contaminants during the filtration process and permits efficient water purification. Moreover, it does so under normal solar light conditions, a key factor for the reduction of energy requirements for water treatment. Falaras’ work also emphasizes the use of novel, environmentally friendly materials and represents a cost-effective cutting-edge application of nanotechnology for enhancing water quality.

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