Clean technology for clean water
University of Ulster scientists are collaborating with international research partners to develop a new ‘clean’ technology to destroy water toxins caused by harmful algal blooms.
The research team, led by Dr Tony Byrne, is based at NIBEC, Ulster’s Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre where clean technology is a key research theme.
Dr Byrne explains: “Clean Technology is a term used to describe services that improve operational performance, productivity or efficiency, while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste or pollution.
“The increase of harmful algal blooms in estuaries and freshwater aquatic systems around the world is a major global problem because of the serious threat they pose to wildlife, livestock and humans,” he said.
Algal blooms occur naturally but not all pose a risk to humans or animals. However, an increased supply of limiting nutrients in water due to pollution will increase the likelihood of harmful algal blooms.
Dr Tony Byrne continues: “Blue-green algae can pose a serious threat, as these micro-organisms can produce and release a variety of cyanotoxins. These toxins can have extremely high toxicity.”
However, the team has been working hard on the solution.
“Titanium dioxide is non-toxic but when excited by ultra violet light, it becomes a powerful catalyst capable of destroying pollutants in water.
“Clean Technology carries the hopes of a low-polluting and sustainable future.
“Global issues such as environmental pollution and access to clean water demand innovative solutions and our research is contributing to these technological advances,” said Dr Byrne.
It is good to see that clean water is an issue at the forefront of innovative scientific research; The Water Delivery Company prizes our own water for how clean and safe it is…as well as how tasty!