Solar water purification by inorganic photochemistry

Clean water, sanitation and water scarcity is a major issue worldwide, as highlighted in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6. According to the UN, more than 2 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases, the majority of which are children.

The situation could be much improved with proper water sanitation. But many areas where these problems occur lack access to proper water management systems and infrastructure. Developing point-of-use solutions to treat water on a local scale is one potential way of dealing with this problem. Many current solutions are either very inefficient, or require large amounts of power.

Sunlight can be used for many purposes and one example of this is for water disinfection. It can be harnessed directly for solar disinfection, which is already used in many places in the world. But this approach only uses high energy UV light that bacteria absorb themselves.

Another way of utilising the sun is to use some molecules which absorb visible light, then form highly reactive oxygen species, which in turn can kill bacteria. This project will look into developing potential reusable point-of-use water treatments that use these immobilised light-harvesting molecules, and need only sunlight to work.

Martin Appleby


Professor Julia Weinstein

Professor of Physical Chemistry


Professor Dave Kelly

Professor of Microbiology