Transformation of Organic Pollutants using Novel Nanomaterials

Primary Submission Contact

Abby Beavan

Faculty Sponsor

Julie Peller

Faculty Sponsor Email Address



Arts and Sciences



Document Type

Poster Presentation


Fall 10-30-2015


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 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 loss of the PPh. Both SGM and TiO2 films readily catalyze the breakdown of PPh, but to various extends 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 junior Chemistry major at Valparaiso University. She intends to go to pharmacy school after graduation in pursuit of a pharmacy degree. With that, she hopes to work with patients to help their quality of life.

She became interested in this project because of the direct implications that this project has with the air quailty in Northwestern Indiana. She believes that we need to find a way to help combat pollution and start to make the air and water cleaner for those that use it.

Additional Presentation Information

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