Titanium Dioxide and Ultra-violet Light: A Sustainable and Inexpensive Solution for Addressing Drinking Water Quality Issues in the Developing Countries

EPA Grant Number: SU831833
Title: Titanium Dioxide and Ultra-violet Light: A Sustainable and Inexpensive Solution for Addressing Drinking Water Quality Issues in the Developing Countries
Investigators: Desu, S. , Long, S. , Reckhow, David A.
Institution: University of Massachusetts - Amherst
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: October 1, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Appropriate technologies are needed for drinking water problem in the developing world. An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. This is a global problem. The purpose of our research is to develop a self-sustaining and an inexpensive reactor that will rid the naturally available water from a wide variety of contaminants and pathogens, making it suitable for human consumption.


Based on our initial laboratory tests we showed that UV-A radiation from sunlight, when used in conjunction with photo-catalyst titanium oxide (TiO2), is able to remove certain pathogens and chemicals from water. The technical challenges are in developing an algorithm to maximize the affectivity variable UVA intensity from the sun as it activates catalysis; a robust TiO2 embedded reactor that is self-sustaining; and a cost effective process. We also need to develop a stable reactor that can be produced inexpensively. Practicality of such approach will help in diminishing the severe drinking water crisis in the developing countries and also its availability in the rural/remote areas in developed countries.

We will develop an algorithm to inter-relate key process variables, sunlight intensity, temperature, types of photocatalyst and various organic and biological contaminants and use it in understanding mechanisms responsible for their removal. Data gathered from such experiments will facilitate the development of an optimum reactor and reliable water disinfection process.

Expected Results:

Periodic interdepartmental ‘information forums’ in a group discussion format will be held to present results, discuss current research in alternative technologies, and facilitate the understanding and implementation of P3 concepts among students and faculty.

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, health effects, chemicals, bacteria, green chemistry, disinfection, oxidation engineering, MA, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, TREATMENT/CONTROL, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology, Arsenic, Technology for Sustainable Environment, New/Innovative technologies, Water Pollutants, Drinking Water, clean technologies, detoxification, titanium dioxide photo catalyast, green engineering, other - risk assessment, environmental sustainability, arsenic removal, adsorption, drinking water distribution system, treatment, activated carbons, drinking water contaminants, drinking water treatment, UV light emitting diodes, green chemistry, drinking water system

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report