Challenges and prospects of advanced oxidation water treatment processes using catalytic nanomaterials


Centralized water treatment has dominated in developed urban areas over the past century, although increasing challenges with this model demand a shift to a more decentralized approach wherein advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) can be appealing treatment options. Efforts to overcome the fundamental obstacles that have thus far limited the practical use of traditional AOPs, such as reducing their chemical and energy input demands, target the utilization of heterogeneous catalysts. Specifically, recent advances in nanotechnology have stimulated extensive research investigating engineered nanomaterial (ENM) applications to AOPs. In this Perspective, we critically evaluate previously studied ENM catalysts and the next-generation treatment technologies they seek to enable. Opportunities for improvement exist at the intersection of materials science and treatment process engineering, as future research should aim to enhance catalyst properties while considering the unique roadblocks to practical ENM implementation in water treatment.

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Fig. 1: Advanced oxidation in decentralized water treatment.
Fig. 2: ENM-enabled peroxy-based AOPs.
Fig. 3: ENM-enabled photocatalytic AOPs.
Fig. 4: ENM-enabled electrochemical AOPs.
Fig. 5: Challenges and prospects for ENM-based AOPs in water treatment.


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This work was partly supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (grant EEC-1449500). B.C.H. was funded by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (grant no. DGE-0644492).

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B.C.H. and E.L.C. wrote a draft that was scrutinized and improved by all the authors.

Correspondence to Jae-Hong Kim.

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Hodges, B.C., Cates, E.L. & Kim, J. Challenges and prospects of advanced oxidation water treatment processes using catalytic nanomaterials. Nature Nanotech 13, 642–650 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41565-018-0216-x

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