During the last decades, many studies and applications have focused on the reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM0.1, PM2.5, etc.) produced from a great variety of sources, such as industrial processes, house-hold activities and electronic equipments that are present in confined spaces (i.e. industries, offices, houses, schools, etc.). Over 300 chemicals are listed as VOCs by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and most of them are toxic and some are considered to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic. On the other hand, indoor air environment may contain a mixture of microbiological contaminants (i.e. bacteria, fungi, viruses and toxins) capable of inducing either toxic or inflammatory responses in human beings. At present, there is a lack of awareness about biological contamination in the indoor environment and their potential sources for the spreading of various pathogens.
In this scenario, the reduction of both chemical and biological pollutants is pivotal to ensure the health and well-being of people who live and work in buildings.
The main purpose of the NANOmaterials for SUStainable TECHnologies Project is the design and development of smart and sustainable nanostructured materials active toward the reduction of chemical pollutants and microbiological contaminants that affect indoor air quality.
The NANOSUSTECH project aims to address in a unifying vision and approach the reduction of chemical (gaseous and solid) pollutants along with the inactivation/removal of microbial species using sustainable materials, such as zeolites, mesoporous materials, nanoparticles, coatings and nanocatalysts and photocatalysts. It will best use the different multidisciplinary competences to explore new directions through a synergistic approach for the treatment of indoor air pollution. The NANOSUSTECH project proposes a different
and more effective concept of knowledge integration. Rather than bringing together separate core activities, each focused on its own specific sub-field, the project will make best use of the different multidisciplinary competences to explore new directions through a synergetic approach.
The project involves seven research units (Politecnico di Torino, Università Federico II di Napoli, Politecnico di Milano, Università di Bologna, Università di Padova, Università di Brescia, Università di Palermo) and includes tasks related to preparation, physico-chemical characterization and evaluation of the reduction activity towards chemical and biological pollutants.
The prepared materials will be validated on laboratory scale using different reactors and composite cartridges (prototypes of full-scale devices). Finally, it will be considered the environmental sustainability and economic feasibility of the materials for possible applications in different contexts.
The ambitious purpose of the NANOSUSTECH project is to join high-quality scientists and researchers to explore the issue of indoor air pollution from a multifaceted perspective and through a synergistic approach.
The main goals of the NANOSUSTECH project are:
• Preparation, physico-chemical characterization and testing of smart and sustainable materials effective for the (photo)-catalytic reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds, particulate matter and pathogens to ensure the health and well-being of people who live and work in buildings. The prepared materials will be validated on a laboratory scale with fixed bed columns/photoreactors and composite cartridges (prototypes full-scale devices) using different operating conditions (TRL from 1 to 4).
• Realization of a prototype device (lab-scale) for possible developing scaling-up strategies. As a whole, the NANOSUSTECH project will provide the fundamental knowledge for the realization of full-scale technological devices to be used in air treatment units.
WP1 concerns the preparation of sustainable nanostructured materials that can be used for the reduction of chemical and biological pollutants. Different preparation methods will be proposed by the research units. The prepared materials will be active for the (photo)-catalytic oxidation of VOC, PM and pathogens.
WP2 includes tasks related to physico-chemical characterization of materials by means of complementary techniques for the study of structural, textural and chemical features.
WP3 consists in the study of the (photo)-catalytic oxidation and antimicrobial properties of materials on laboratory scale.
WP4 aims to produce prototypes of full-scale devices with (photo)-catalytic properties to reduce Volatile Organic Compounds, particulate matter and pathogens. The multiple-functionality of the prototype will be evaluated with gaseous mixtures under different operating conditions.
As a whole, the prepared materials should exhibit the following performances at room/mild temperature:
> 90% VOCs abatement
> 90% PM capture/reduction
> 99% microbial inactivation/removal
Moreover, the NANOSUSTECH project represents an exclusive possibility for the synergistic coalescence of the expertise of different research groups working in the field of materials science, catalysis, photocatalysis and biotechnology.
As a dissemination index, it is planned to produce > 5 publications in high-impact factor journals with specific feedback on the project, most of them jointly by two or more researchers of the participating units. In addition, it is planned to present the results of the project’s activities at > 5 international conferences.