Photocatalysis for Advanced Water Purification: Targeting Efficient Degradation of Pollutants 

About this project

Project description

Water pollution is a pressing global issue with severe consequences for both the environment and human health. Photocatalysis has emerged as a promising technology for water purification due to its ability to harness solar energy for the degradation of pollutants. This project aims to investigate the synergistic effects of carbon (C decorated with titanium (Ti), and cobalt (Co) and other metals in photocatalytic systems for enhanced water purification. These photocatalysts will be employed for water purification, specifically targeting the removal of organic and inorganic pollutants from industrial wastewater.

The project involves a designed research protocol to achieve green synthesis, ensuring that carbon-based photocatalysts are sustainable. By combining solar energy with sustainable practices, this project aims to contribute to cleaner water solutions and address the environmental impact of industrial waste.

The project objectives can be summarised as follows:

  1. Synthesis and Characterization: The first objective involves synthesising the photocatalysts: Develop novel photocatalysts by incorporating carbon, titanium dioxide (TiO2), and cobalt nanoparticles to enhance the catalytic activity. The synthesized materials will be thoroughly characterized using various analytical techniques, such as UV-Vis, SEM, FTIR, and EDX analyzer. The goal is to optimise the efficiency and effectiveness of the developed photocatalysts in removing phenol derivatives from contaminated water under varying conditions of concentration, time, pH, and temperature. This work will be primarily conducted at IITD, India.
  2. Industrial Wastewater Treatment: The second objective focuses on analysing various water quality parameters before and after using the synthesized photocatalysts for wastewater treatment. Modelling and simulation of the data will be carried out to optimise the overall efficiency of the photocatalysts. Response surface methodology and artificial neural networks will be utilised for this purpose. This aspect of the project will also be conducted at IITD, India.
  3. Application to Water Purification: The third objective involves developing suitable methods for water purification and conducting field trials to scale up the technology. The project will be conducted at UQ, mainly at the School of Chemical Engineering in collaboration with IMB, Australia. Handling of waste from the purification process will be done through a simple time-dependent two-step sedimentation/decantation process. The project will also explore the regeneration of the photocatalysts for reuse and analyze their efficiency in consecutive runs.
  4. Water Quality Assessment: This objective aims to assess the quality of the treated water. The clear water will be tested for the presence of any metal or bacterial contamination. If the concentration of contaminants is below WHO-defined safe levels, the water will be released. If contaminants exceed safe levels, photocatalysts will be used as for further treatment, and the sedimentation/decantation process will be repeated. This phase will be conducted parallel with IITD and UQ ChemEng/IMB, Australia.
  5. Life Cycle Assessment: The final objective involves conducting a comprehensive life cycle assessment of the entire process using available assessment software. This assessment will provide an overview of the feasibility of implementing this process on an industrial scale. This aspect of the project will be carried out at UQ ChemEng/IMB, Australia.

The project aims to make significant advances in water purification technology by achieving these objectives, leading to more sustainable and effective solutions for industrial wastewater treatment.


  1. Methodology for Carbon Photocatalyst Synthesis:

This research is crucial for advancing the field of water purification by introducing innovative photocatalytic materials that demonstrate superior pollutant degradation efficiency. The use of carbon, titanium, and cobalt metals in combination is expected to synergistically enhance the photocatalytic activity, contributing to the development of sustainable and efficient water treatment technologies.

This methodology will include detailed instructions, step-by-step procedures, and parameters for achieving efficient and eco-friendly production of carbon photocatalysts. The developed methodology will be documented in a technical report, enabling researchers and industry professionals to replicate the process with ease.

  1. Effective Water Purification with Photocatalysis:

The project’s outcomes will demonstrate the effectiveness of the synthesized carbon based photocatalysts in removing phenol compounds and their derivatives from industrial wastewater. A series of laboratory-scale tests will be conducted to evaluate the photocatalysts’ performance under various conditions of contamination concentration, exposure time, pH, and temperature. The results will be compiled into a comprehensive report, providing valuable insights into the photocatalysts’ efficiency for water purification purposes.

  1. Life Cycle Analysis and Process Optimization:

One of the project’s key outcomes will be a thorough life cycle analysis of the entire photocatalysts synthesis and water purification process. This analysis will consider all aspects, from raw material acquisition and synthesis to the application of photocatalysts in water treatment and waste handling. By conducting this assessment, the project aims to identify potential environmental impacts and areas for improvement. Based on the findings, the team will develop optimisation strategies to enhance the overall efficiency and sustainability of the process.

  1. Scalable and Sustainable Technology Implementation:

The project will deliver a scalable technology for utilizing carbon photocatalysts in large-scale water purification applications. This outcome will involve the development of practical methods for the synthesis of photocatalysts on a commercial scale, ensuring their cost-effectiveness and mass production feasibility. Additionally, guidelines for the implementation of this technology in different industrial settings will be provided, fostering the adoption of sustainable practices for wastewater treatment.

  1. Knowledge Dissemination and Academic Contributions:

Throughout the project, research findings, methodologies, and outcomes will be disseminated through scientific publications in reputable journals and presentations at relevant conferences. By sharing knowledge and results with the scientific community, the project aims to contribute to the advancement of green nanotechnology and its applications in water purification. The project team will also engage in educational outreach to promote awareness of sustainable wastewater treatment solutions among the wider public and industry stakeholders.

Information for applicants

Essential capabilities

Chemical Engineering Bachelor’s degree

Knowledge about simulation and modelling of data

Desireable capabilities

Experience in wet chemistry lab

Expected qualifications (Course/Degrees etc.)

Chemical Engineering Bachelor’s degree

Additional information for applicants

note: i-students must have own scholarship to apply (CSIR, UCG-NET, etc)

Project supervisors

Principal supervisors

UQ Supervisor

Dr Muxina Konarova

School of Chemical Engineering
IITD Supervisor

Professor Kamal Pant

Department of Chemical Engineering
Additional Supervisor

Dr Zyta Ziora

Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB)