Dream big, work hard for it and success will follow – this is true in a photocatalysis endeavor I was involved in.

Photocatalysis can be defined as a “catalytic reaction involving the production of a catalyst by absorption of light”. Photocatalysts can absorb a photon and accelerate reactions without being destroyed or deteriorated by the photocatalytic process. Hence, it has become a preferred way of cleaning up and managing the environment. In my case, my fellow researchers and I were able to make use of light reaction to cleanse wastewater of pollutants.

Many years ago, I was just doing small researchers in the laboratory of De la Salle University with minimal funds. Good results were published in our college journal. From Assistant Professor, I went through the ladder of success by collaborating with other research institutions. This gave me a feeling of fulfillment, not only because of the papers I published, but for helping younger scholars achieve their dreams.

The DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) gave a grant to a collaborative research venture I have with Dr. Josephine Borja, research associate and Mr. Jurex Gallo, an ERDT scholar pursuing his doctorate. Our research project was intended to assist a textile dyeing industry solve its problem on colored wastewater. This DOST-funded project also gave me an opportunity to help industries solve their wastewater problem.

From literature surveys, questionnaires and interviews, we assessed their problem in complying with EMB water quality standards, especially on persistent dyes. With many technologies available, we found a promising technology called Advanced Oxidation Process to degrade persistent dyes using light.

Two years of laboratory investigations finally confirmed that photocatalysis can produce clear water from blue colored water. By using photocatalysis, we produced a material that, when exposed to sunlight, can remove the persistent color in water.

The efficacy of this technique is proven by a study done using the actual wastewater of our partner industry.

Being involved with this project fulfilled, not only my own dream, but that of Jurex and other co-workers. On February 6, 2015, Jurex earned his doctorate in Chemical Engineering.

Josie remarked that “Having been involved in this project helped me on how to better approach research and has expanded my knowledge about the field of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Applying the technology developed for the treatment of actual wastewater from textile was fulfilling. It shows that the project is not just one of the many researchers conducted where results are kept and forgotten after the project; there is an application in the real world”.

Josie said the project has also helped her in her class lectures, especially on the subject of Chemical Reaction Engineering. In this subject, one topic was on Catalytic Reactions and Josie’s learning acquired from the project made her more confident to discuss the subject matter. She became better equipped in explaining the principles of catalysis by giving actual examples taken from the research project.

Jurex said, “Being part of this project gave me a strong background in research and eventually helped me earned my PhD degree. For this opportunity, I am very grateful to Dr. Gallardo and to the rest of the team”.

One industry partner said, “We were very impressed with the initial results of the photocatalysis treatment pilot project that you conducted in our dyeing factory. We believe technology is very promising in the field of environmental management most especially in wastewater treatment. We sincerely hope that our company can further participate in your future projects especially in upscaling this new technology in an industrial-size capacity”.

Susan M. Gallardo
De La Salle University Manila

Published by:
Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII)