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Organic Pollutants & Natural Organic Matter Laboratory (LOPNOM)


LOPNOM research is focused on the fate and effects of trace organic contaminants in the environment and on the development of strategies for their removal or degradation, with an emphasis on emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals.
For remediation of contaminated waters, two main strategies are investigated: adsorption on alternative low-cost adsorbents, and photodegradation using inexpensive light sources (ex: solar light). The production of low-cost adsorbents, using industrial or agricultural waste materials as precursors, is being optimized and tested for removal of human and aquaculture pharmaceuticals, promoting circular economy and the collaboration with industries. For photodegradation, different types of photo-catalysts, tuned to be activated by solar or visible artificial light, are being prepared and tested/optimized for the degradation of pharmaceuticals in wastewaters. Research work on the development and optimization of membranes with immobilized photo-catalysts (TiO2 based nanocomposites) for VOCs elimination by indoor air cleaners is also being done, in straight collaboration with materials sciences specialists and the industry.
The role of solar photodegradation in the fate of trace organic pollutants in natural waters is also studied, and the effects of several components of the aqueous matrices are evaluated, namely the effect of major ions, and of natural organic matter from different origins.
Analytical chemistry plays a key role in our investigation. Analytical techniques, such as HPLC-UV, HPLC-fluorescence, HPLC-MS/MS, capillary electrophoresis and immunochemical techniques, are used for analysis of organic pollutants and/or identification of the degradation products.  Sample preparation methodologies, based on SPE, DLLME and other techniques, are developed to obtain reliable analytical data. Techniques such as FTIR, NMR, SEM, XPS are used for structural characterization of natural organic matter and/or materials (adsorbents and photo-catalysts).


Lab Leader: 

PhD Researchers:

Marta Otero

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