FURI | Spring 2024

Photoelectrocatalytic Nitrate Reduction Using Nano-enabled Titanium Oxide Decorated with Metal Nanoparticles

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Nitrate (NO3) pollution in surface and groundwater, worsened by nitrogen-rich fertilizers in agriculture, poses a significant challenge. Conventional methods remove NO3 physically, yielding concentrated reject water needing further treatment. Electrochemical processes use electrons to convert NO3 into ammonia (NH3) or dinitrogen (N2). This project explores photoelectrocatalysis, enhancing selectivity for NH3 as an added-value product using a photocathode based on tri-layers. Titanium oxide (TiO2) nanorods modified with Ag and CuOx nanoparticles exhibit high NO3 conversion rates and exceptional NH3 selectivity. Mechanism evaluation reveals synergistic effects between photocatalysis and electrocatalysis, surpassing individual performances. This approach offers promising solution for NO3 pollution remediation and sustainable resource recovery in agriculture.

Student researcher

Noah Butzine

Environmental engineering

Hometown: Grand Junction, Colorado, United States

Graduation date: Spring 2024