Generating hydrogen, producing and desalinating water and creating energy are just some of the properties of a brand new nanomaterial, developed by scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.
The Multi-use Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) was invented by the Associate Professor, Darren Sun and his team in a five-year long study. The material is cheap and super efficient, because titanium dioxide is readily available. It is known to accelerate chemical reactions and bind easily with water.
The new material can be used as a water filtration membrane, it can be turned into solar cells, it could improve the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries and it kills bacteria, which makes it suitable for use in antibacterial bandages.
In the last five years, Professor Sun has published more than 70 scientific papers on his work with this material. He points out that it can solve two of the biggest problems of modern society, these of limited clean water resources and expensive renewable energy.
The material was discovered in the process of developing a new membrane for water filtration. The team found that the material was also a photocatalyst, which acts similarly to platinum- a very expensive and rare element. The scientists managed to increase the efficiency of the material achieving almost three times this of the precious element.
Some of the most recent papers on the use of TiO2 include a publication in the journal Water Research on producing hydrogen and clean water as well as in the journal of Energy and Environmental Science on producing low-cos flexible forward osmosis membranes.
Other uses of the material include antibacterial bandages production, implementation in low-cost flexible solar cells and improvements of lithium-ion batteries.
The team is now trying to commercialize their discovery by starting up a company, which will bring the material to the market.