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Building Solar-Powered Water Treatment

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Funding Year: 2018

Research Areas: Freshwater

Regions: North America

Contamination of drinking water is a huge challenge with close to 2 billion people relying on contaminated water sources. Chlorination is the most common method of disinfection, but it produces carcinogenic byproducts and undesirable taste and odor.


An alternative disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), leaves only water and oxygen as byproducts. Moreover, H2O2 works over a wider pH range than chlorine, so it can treat water with diverse quality. However, cost and safety concerns make H2O2 inaccessible to a large percentage of people who need it the most. This project will design, build and test a prototype solar-powered water treatment system. The system will electrochemically convert water and oxygen to produce levels of H2O2 sufficient to remove pathogens, odors and metals from water.

Learn more about the Environmental Venture Projects grant program and other funded projects.

Principal Investigators:

Xiaolin Zheng, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Jens Norskov, Professor at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Visiting Professor of Chemical Engineering

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