Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
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Funding Source: Year One Block Grant - The Alabama Marine Environmental Science Consortium

Project Overview

Visible Light Activated Photocatalysis for the Chemical Evaluation, Photodegradation of Oil-Dispersant Interaction in Deepwater Horizon Oil-Spill

Principal Investigator
Tuskegee University
Department of Physics


This project is aimed to develop novel photocatalytic degradation technique that utilizes the sunlight and the visible light activated photocatalyst for the evaluation and decontamination of oil/water samples collected from the gulf coast. The photo-oxidation of organic compounds (for example, hydrocarbons, phenol, methyl orange, methylene blue etc.), on the heterogeneous semiconductor oxides (e.g. TiO2, ZnO, ZnFe2O4 etc.) will be extensively studied in the PI’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities at Tuskegee University.

At the end of this first interim quarterly period, it is claimed that the PIs have successfully designed a photocatalytic reactor (which is not commercially available) that is capable to operate under different experimental conditions. The second step involving sandwiching of high band gap (Eg of TiO2 = 3.1 eV) and low band gap (Eg of ZnFe2O4 = 1.9 eV) semiconductor oxides for the visible photocatalysis reactions will be carried out using an inexpensive planetary mechano-chemical process. The structural, microstructural, and chemical studies as explored from various metrological tools will be correlated with the photocatalytic behavior.

For this purpose, the PIs have successfully installed various state-of-the-art-tools such Autosorb iQ (from Quantchrome Instruments), mechano-chemical milling (from Across International), nitrogen filled glove box, and programmable high temperature furnace which are now fully in operative mode for studying the samples in the remaining quarters of the project. Some of the other tools such as XRD, FTIR, UV-Vis are in use at the other labs of Tuskegee University campus which will be available for this project. The PI has requested the oil/water samples from NALCO and also to the professors at Auburn University.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.