In order to address the nowadays challenges faced by the Circular Economy frame, biomass is the most promising renewable carbon source alternative to oil and coal. In this raw material, terpenes are prominent molecules since they show double bonds able to be oxidized for giving rise epoxides, appealing building-blocks for the preparation of a wide variety of commodities as well as fine products.
Energy-efficient desalination and water treatment technologies play a critical role in augmenting freshwater resources without placing an excessive strain on limited energy supplies. In this sense, the high energy efficiency and often superior efficacy of membrane-based technologies have gained widespread implementation in various water treatment processes. Thus, new processes has been proposed merging areas such as biotechnology, energy productions or nutrient recovery with membrane-based technology. Our research group is fully devoted to merge membrane technology with other areas such as biotechnology, renewable energy and resources recovery to develop the next generation of hybrid technologies for water resource management, sustainable desalination, brine valorization and salinity gradient energy production, while increasing the impact of innovation in the water sector.
Our research group is fully devoted to merge environmental microbiology and electrochemical tools to restore soil and sediments polluted with organics compounds, while harvesting clean energy from enviroments. We truly believe that investing time in studying the basic aspects of this novel field will accelerate the design and implementation of innovative applications able to make Earth a better place to live in.
Our activities are mainly focus on: 1. designing and constructing electrochemical devices for harvesting electrical current from microbial metabolism in polluted enviroments like soils and sediments and 2. Designing strategies for cleaning-up polluted soils and sediments using electroactive microorganisms stimulated with electrochemical tools.
Water contamination with biological (nucleic acids; bacteria, viruses) or chemical (aromatic compounds, metal ions) traces is an important healthy issue. These traces are almost impossible to eliminate by traditional methods and require alternatives, as can be the use of trapping systems, which would interact or bind to these traces, eliminating them from water. For example, chelating systems can be used for metal ions or ammonium compounds can interact with aromatic rings. Regarding biological residues, it has been shown that polyionic macromolecules have high affinity for them, even being able to kill bacteria and viruses. For this project, we propose the study of magnetic nanoparticles and of bulk silica covered with cationic and chelating moieties as water purification systems. Since we have prepared silica with cationic fragments, we have to develop a synthetic procedure for analogous systems on magnetic nanoparticles surface. On the other hand, we have to develop also multichelating systems to be grafted to magnetic nanoparticles and bulk silica. The active groups will be supported on dendritic structures that will generate multiple points of interaction on the surface of materials.
Synthesis of new photocatalysts with application in photovoltaic cells, materials for energy storage, water splitting and catalysis
Climate change and energy shortage represent some of the greatest challenges for humanity. The use of fossil fuels has a significant adverse impact on the environment and is considered a critical cause of global climate change. Therefore, the development of clean and renewable energy is the key way to meet the increasing global energy requirement and to resolve the environmental problems caused by the overuse of large amounts of fossil fuels. Visible-light photoredox catalysis uses visible light as a renewable energy source to promote chemical transformations involving electron transfers. There is an urgent need for clean and renewable fuel so that the development of good catalysts and its assembly into a cell for the photoproduction of hydrogen is seen as one of the most promising sustainable solutions for our present demands. The most used complexes in visible light photocatalysis by their excellent photophysical properties are ruthenium and iridium polypyridyl complexes although their high cost and potential toxicity, causing disadvantages on a big scale. Although great advances have been made in the development of photocatalysts for their application in water splitting, photovoltaic cells, solar energy storage and catalysis, development of new photocatalysts to get more efficient transformations is mandatory and will be the topic of this project.