Solar Powered Material Can Remove Synthetic Dyes From Water

The Issue:

Textiles, more specifically the dyeing process, leave one of the largest water footprints on the planet.

Each year, around 300,000 tons of harmful dye pollutants are released into the world’s water supplies.

An Alternative:

New waterless dyeing technologies are being developed and deployed that could help reduce the vast quantities of pollution generated by textile dyeing.

How To Clean Up Dye-Polluted Waters:

Engineers at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University have developed a new composite material composed of of tantalum nitride and tungsten oxide. The development was announced in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal on June, 22 2017.

Using a process called photocatalytic degradation, this material can reportedly break down dye into smaller, harmless molecules. The photocatalytic material can absorb 90% of dye pollutants and increase the rate of dye breakdown by almost ten times. Once the dye is removed, the catalyst can be filtered from the cleaned water and reused. The process is powered by solar energy.

According to, “While the photocatalytic degradation of dyes has been investigated for several decades, it is only relatively recently that researchers have developed materials capable of absorbing the visible part of the solar spectrum - other materials, such as titanium dioxide, are also able to break down dyes using solar energy, but their efficiency is limited as they only absorb higher energy, ultraviolet light. By making use of a much greater range of the spectrum, materials such as those used by the ESRI team at Swansea University team are able to remove pollutants at a far superior rate.”