Transformation of Organic Pollutants using Novel Nanomaterials

Faculty Sponsor

Julie Peller


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-28-2015


A novel photocatalytic nanomaterial composed of semiconductor-graphene oxide-metal films (SGM) has been developed for the detection and destruction of organic contaminants in both air and water matrices. The TiO2-graphene-Ag films were prepared and dried under vacuum, and the catalytic performance was compared to TiO2 films. Aqueous solutions of propylene glycol phenyl ether (PPh), one of the contaminants of the 2014 chemical spill in the Elk Lake, Virginia, were used to test the catalytic performance of the SGM films. The solutions containing the films were exposed to light from a xenon (Xe) lamp, and a lamp with a filter allowing for just visible light (400-800 nm). Oxygen, air and nitrogen gases were used in separate experiments in order to better understand the catalytic mechanisms. The carbon compounds in the solutions were collected using Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) fibers, followed by analyses using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) to identify the products that were formed. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was used to quantify the los of the PPh. Both SGM and TiO2 films raedily catalyze the breakdown of PPh, but to various extents under the different gas conditions and the full Xe lamp light; upon visible light exposure, only a small change in PPh concentration was realized, according to GC-MS and HPLC spectra. Major identified breakdown products were toluene, methylphenol, and propanone. Experiments are ongoing to more fully understand the capacity of SGM films.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Abby Beavan is a Chemistry student at Valparaiso University. Her career goals are to go to pharmacy school and to pursue a career as a pharmacist so that she can help people in need.

She became interested in this topic because of its potential environmental impact. She believes that protected the environment should be top priority for everyone. She hopes that her research can contribute to efforts to reduce pollutants in air and water samples.

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