Removing hazardous substances from the air

August 14, 2012, CORDIS
Removing hazardous substances from the air
© Thinkstock

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon-based compounds, many of which are hazardous to humans' health. EU-funded researchers coordinated efforts to apply nanotechnology to the capture and sequestration of these compounds.

VOCs evaporate into the air at room temperature. The evaporation process produces tiny air-borne molecules that may be unsafe to those who inhale them, come into contact with them via skin, or drink them in contaminated water supplies.

While the use of VOCs has been restricted in recent years, there are still thousands of products present in everyday life that contain VOCs. Removal of VOCs from waste air streams, whether at factories that use VOCs or at wastewater treatment plants that remove VOCs from wastewater, is commonly accomplished with separation membranes.

The application of nanotechnology (technology on the scale of atoms or molecules) to membrane filtration of VOCs in waste air streams may greatly enhance functionality.

Nanoparticles have the unique feature of having very high surface areas compared to their volumes. This surface area is extremely useful as a work surface for chemical reactions and absorption of other molecules.

However, integration of nanotechnology with membrane separation technology for more efficient and greener removal of VOCs from waste air streams is an emerging, developing field.

In order to coordinate efforts in research with those in industry and in policymaking bodies, European researchers initiated the ANVOC project.

The main goal of the project was to organise a symposium bringing together stakeholders from all areas to disseminate knowledge to end users and to facilitate cooperation among research and development (R&D) bodies.

ANVOC scientists met all goals, bringing together international experts in nanotechnology, membrane technology and air pollution control.

The symposium presented R&D results, identified the types of membranes used in recovery of VOCs, and demonstrated the use of membranes in gas separation. In addition, valuable possibilities for future research collaboration were identified.

ANVOC project outcomes should have an important impact on the future of R&D related to integration of nanotechnology with membrane filtration technology for VOC recovery from waste air streams. Eventual commercialisation of innovations will enhance consumer and worker health while protecting the environment.

Explore further: Indoor plants found to release volatile organic compounds

Related Stories

Indoor plants found to release volatile organic compounds

September 3, 2009

Potted plants add a certain aesthetic value to homes and offices, bringing a touch of nature to indoor spaces. It has also been shown that many common house plants have the ability to remove volatile organic compounds—gases ...

Invisible gases form most organic haze in urban, rural areas

July 9, 2007

A new study involving the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that invisible, reactive gases hovering over Earth's surface, not direct emissions of particulates, form the bulk of organic haze in both urban and rural areas ...

For clean air

March 30, 2007

In addition to nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides, many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air contribute to smog and high ozone levels, as well as potentially damaging human health. Clean-air laws are thus rightly continuing ...

Recommended for you

Quantum dot ring lasers emit colored light

January 22, 2018

Researchers have designed a new type of laser called a quantum dot ring laser that emits red, orange, and green light. The different colors are emitted from different parts of the quantum dot—red from the core, green from ...

Fast computer control for molecular machines

January 19, 2018

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a novel electric propulsion technology for nanorobots. It allows molecular machines to move a hundred thousand times faster than with the biochemical processes ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Ram Iyer
not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
The environment is the main reason for diseases and if we improve the environment by lighting lamps with herbal oil that will send ultra violet rays in the room and make them penetrate through skin and mix with blood. A detailed study was made and a PhD thesis unedited copy is with ACS research department will open new window for researchers.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.