Inmaculada Velo Gala, Associate Laboratory LSRE-LCM | October 17, 2019 – 17h00 | FEUP Sala B024

Water is one crucial natural resource since life on our planet depends on it. The transmission of serious diseases through pathogenic microorganisms in water is extremely common in the developing world and the antimicrobial resistance has increased globally. At the same time, pollutants can be found in ground and surface waters, even in tap water. In all cases all of them have to be removed to protect our water resources and to achieve drinking water quality. Therefore, the photocatalytic system has been proposed as an alternative method for clean-up polluted water, and carbon materials have played an important role in this process. Since the early studies reporting the benefits of the use of porous carbons as inert supports of semiconductors and as electron acceptors that enhance the splitting of the photogenerated charges, many researchers have investigated the key role of carbon matrices coupled to all types of photoactive materials. But these improvements exceed their simple textural contribution and the role of carbon materials go far beyond their function as mere porous supports. They have the ability to convert the absorbed photons into chemical reactions, opening new opportunities in the application of radiation in advanced oxidation water treatment. This seminar will describe the basic principles of photocatalysis, focusing in particular on relevant properties of carbon materials to generate reactive oxidant species, acting as photocatalyst and photosensitizer by them self, in absence of any usual semiconductor. The oxidant species can be active in the pollutant removal and the elimination of resistant microorganisms from water. In line with these principles, the Solar photoElectrolytic Disinfection (SED) project offers solutions to achieve the full potential of carbon materials as photocatalysts for bacteria removal. The advanced oxidation process proposed combines porous carbon materials, which can operate under ambient temperature and pressure, with solar radiation, developing a new low-cost technology to water treatment. The SED project is being developed by Dr Inmaculada Velo Gala in collaboration with Professor Joaquim Faria and Dr Claudia Gomes in the Chemical Engineering Department at FEUP.

Inma Velo Gala is a Spanish researcher expert in the application of advanced oxidation processes and carbon materials for water and wastewater treatment. She obtained her PhD degree in Chemical by University of Granada (Spain) in 2013, and worked as Post-Doctoral researcher there and in Instituto Nacional del Carbón (INCAR-CSIC) in Oviedo (Spain) and the Institut Català de Recerca de l’Aigua (ICRA) in Girona (Spain). In 2018, she awarded the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) EF-IF (H2020 Programme) for developing her research project called SED at the Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto as member of the Laboratório de Catálise e Materiais (LCM).

[Host: Joaquim L Faria, Associate Laboratory, LSRE-LCM]
Image credits: Inma Velo Gala.