Engineering Project - Water Purification

For her fourth year Engineering project, student Nikita Dheer is studying the degradation of pharmaceuticals in water, building on the work of our own Professor Barbara Rossi and Professor Raf Dewil at KU Leuven. 

Nikita was kind enough to write about her project for us: 

"17-α-ethinylestradiol (EE2) is a synthetic version of the hormone oestrogen, most commonly found in the contraceptive pill. There has been a rising case of micropollutants such as EE2 being present in water supplies across the globe. Since EE2 is not easily degraded it remains in these surface waters. Even at trace levels EE2 has been shown to have an impact on the environment, in particular for aquatic life.

It is currently possible to degrade EE2 using UV light and a photocatalyst. My project has been focussing on creating a device that is able to degrade EE2 using solar energy, by concentrating solar rays via a parabolic reflector. The aim is that the device is portable, affordable, and self-sustainable so that it can be used in remote areas in developing countries as a water purification tool. 

This project is the basis of my master’s project for my degree, partnered with KU Leuven in Belgium, so I’ve been fortunate enough to use their labs for some of my research. It has been an amazing opportunity to study and live abroad as part of my degree. The project is multi-disciplinary, combining chemical and civil engineering and it also focusses heavily on sustainability and creating a simple solution that can help improve people’s lives by giving them access to clean and safe drinking water, if implemented. I think sustainability and clean energy are very important for us all to think about and it’s quite exciting to be able to work on projects as an engineer that are beneficial to humans and still good for the Earth."