PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo
Generating energy while cleaning waste-water using the power of the sun.
My research involves nano-sized photocatalysts, which are materials that can harness energy from sunlight to effectively decompose organic pollutants in waste-water. Photocatalysts are great because they are chemically stable and do not produce additional waste during their use. My goal is to implement these materials in a system in which they can be used to simultaneously clean waste-water streams and generate electricity - all using completely free and natural sunlight!
Abstract: The effect of the water matrix components of a secondary effluent of a urban wastewater treatment plant on the photocatalytic activity of Ag/AgCl @ chiral TiO2 nanofibers and the undergoing reaction mechanisms were investigated. These effects were evaluated through the water components-induced changes on the net rate of hydroxyl radical (˙OH) generation and modeled using a relative rate technique. Dissolved organic matter DOM (k=-2.8×10(8) M(-1) s(-1)) scavenged reactive oxygen species, Cl(-) (k=-5.3×10(8) M(-1) s(-1)) accelerated the transformation from Ag to AgCl (which is not photocatalytically active under visible-light irradiation), while Ca(2+) at concentrations higher than 50 mM (k=-1.3×10(9) M(-1) s(-1)) induced aggregation of Ag/AgCl and thus all of them revealed inhibitory effects. In contrast, NO3(-) (k=6.9×10(8) M(-1) s(-1)) and CO3(2-) (k=3.7×10(8) M(-1) s(-1)) improved the photocatalytic activity of Ag/AgCl slightly by improving the rate of HO˙ generation. Other ubiquitous secondary effluent components including SO4(2-) (k=3.9×10(5) M(-1) s(-1)), NH3(+) (k=3.5×10(5) M(-1) s(-1)) and Na(+) (k=2.6×10(4) M(-1) s(-1)) had negligible effects. 90% of 17-α-ethynylestradiol (EE2) spiked in the secondary effluent was removed within 12 min, while the structure and size of Ag/AgCl @ chiral TiO2 nanofibers remained stable. This work may be helpful not only to uncover the photocatalytic mechanism of Ag/AgCl based photocatalyst but also to elucidate the transformation and transportation of Ag and AgCl in natural water.
Pub.: 20 Dec '14, Pinned: 27 Jun '17
Abstract: Integrating both photoelectric-conversion and energy-storage functions into one device allows for the more efficient solar energy usage. Here we demonstrate the concept of an aqueous lithium-iodine (Li-I) solar flow battery (SFB) by incorporation of a built-in dye-sensitized TiO2 photoelectrode in a Li-I redox flow battery via linkage of an I3(-)/I(-) based catholyte, for the simultaneous conversion and storage of solar energy. During the photoassisted charging process, I(-) ions are photoelectrochemically oxidized to I3(-), harvesting solar energy and storing it as chemical energy. The Li-I SFB can be charged at a voltage of 2.90 V under 1 sun AM 1.5 illumination, which is lower than its discharging voltage of 3.30 V. The charging voltage reduction translates to energy savings of close to 20% compared to conventional Li-I batteries. This concept also serves as a guiding design that can be extended to other metal-redox flow battery systems.
Pub.: 24 Jun '15, Pinned: 27 Jun '17
Abstract: This study designs a wearable power generator from a flexible, photocatalytic fuel cell (fPFC) using various biowaste sources (lactic acid, ethanol, methanol, urea, glycerol, and glucose) as fuel. The fPFC uses light irradiation and the decomposition of biowaste to generate electrical power under both flat and bending (r = 3 cm) conditions. When employed as a sweat band, the fPFC generates a maximum power 4.0 mW cm−2 g−1 from human sweat. The wearable fPFC is able to overcome many of the disadvantages of wearable microbial and enzymatic cells while providing comparable if not superior power density.
Pub.: 21 Dec '16, Pinned: 27 Jun '17