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KNU Department of Environmental Engineering Team led by Professor Chang Min Park, Develop Novel Advanced Water Treatment of 99.9% Naproxen Degradation


KNU Department of Environmental Engineering Team led by Professor Chang Min Park successfully developed an enhanced, heterogeneous sonophotocatalytic system to degrade naproxen (NPX) in pharmaceutical wastewater that had previously been difficult to remove by conventional treatment processes.

KNU Department of Environmental Engineering Team collaborated in joint research with the University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computer Research Team led by Professor Yeomin Yoon to develop a system using hybrid nanoflowers to degrade 99.9% of NPX, a non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drug used as a pain reliever, within an hour.

Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs), presently the most powerful methods to remediate polluted waters including photolysis, Fenton/Fenton-like reactions, ozone, sonolysis, etc., require high cost and energy but produce relatively low efficiency in removing pollutants such as NPX from water and soil.

Therefore, this research newly constructed a sono-photocatalytic degration process using ternary hybrid nanoflowers by synthesizing ultrathin molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanoflowers with bimetallic CeO2–ZrO2. Under this process of ultrasound (US) irradiation coupled with visible-light illumination, results showed 99.9% NPX degradation within 1 hour in CZ0.75 M hybrids via “sonoluminescence” and “hot spot” in the US/Vis system that ultimately induced OH formation and promoted the rate of NPX degradation.

In addition, the developed system was shown to be implementable at low cost, as the hybrid catalysts were stable and reusable under US and visible-light irradiation during five consecutive recycles.

Professor Park states, “If we are able to actively use this newly discovered advanced water treatment, not only will we see an improvement in removing NPX from the environment, but also a decrease in cost and energy during the process. Moreover, the US/Vis/CZ0.75M system is also a promising discovery for the removal of other organic pollutants.”

This research was carried out by BK21 FOUR KNU Center for Smart Circular Infrastructure as well as KNU Environmental Nano-Convergence Laboratory, and was funded by the Research Project for University Specialization in Science and Engineering and the Research Project for Leading Researchers by the National Research Foundation of Korea.

The paper was published on June 15 in an internationally renowned journal, Composites Part B-Engineering, ranked within top 1% of JCR.