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JBNU WaTER Lab's Research Focus

JBNU WaTER Lab aims to research various water treatment technologies based on chemical oxidation strategy to improve water quality and treatment efficiency. The research areas of our group's current interest can be broadly divided into three categories: i) fundamental investigation on chemical kinetics and mechanisms for the degradation of emerging micropollutants with conventional and other promising oxidants, ii) development of algorithm for determination of oxidant dose for optimization of chemical oxidation process, and iii) design of an on-site small-scale chemical oxidation system applicable where conventional treatment cannot be applied.

I. Investigation on the reactions between emerging micropollutants and oxidants
In South Korea, about 60 aqueous pollutants are being regulated in drinking water treatment plants. However, given the fact that there are more than fifty million chemicals registered in CAS, the 60 items are merely tip of the iceberg. Since we do not know which of them will be a problem, so we need to response quickly to the newly discovered pollutants (e.g., pesticides, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, algal toxins, perfluorinated compounds, microplastics, etc.) by conducting study on them. This kind of study should comprehensively address kinetics, mechanisms, and toxicity changes for each oxidants.

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II. Development of algorithm for optimal oxidant dose
In chemical oxidation process, the determination of optimal dose is an important issue, because underdose or overdose of oxidant can lead to insufficient removal of target micropollutants or increased formation of harmful by-products, and unnecessary cost. The abatement of a micropollutant by an oxidant can be predicted by the kinetic equation that consists of the second-order rate constant (kMP,Ox) and the oxidant exposure. The kMP,Ox values are available for numerous compounds. However, the oxidant exposure varies depending on the characteristics of water, and thus it needs to be determined experimentally for different water sources, which is a major limitation of the kinetic equation. Our group has been working on developing an algorithm including a universal model that can accurately predict oxidant exposure values based on a few simple water quality parameters.

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III. Design of on-site small-scale chemical oxidation system
It is difficult to apply a large-scale drinking water treatment process to an isolated region. In this case, on-site small-scale chemical oxidation system can be an alternative. For this purpose, many previous studies have investigated various oxidation systems using newly developed heterogeneous catalysts. However, many of them are quite far from the real application due to the material's low efficacy or low production yield. Against this background, one of the targeted oxidation technologies we are interested in is a series of systems using Fenton (-like) reactions. Previous studies in our group have shown that high-valent metal ions produced from Fenton (-like) reactions have the potential to control specific target pollutants with high selectivity. If we can modulate the reactivity of the high-valent metal ion (ferryl ion as an oxidant) while maintaining high selectivity, it would be possible to effectively control specific target pollutants. Our group focuses on studying fundamental Fenton chemistry and engineering highly efficient and practical Fenton (-like) based systems.

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