The second United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR 2) confirms the fact that more than one billion people are living without access to adequate safe drinking water and that more than 2.6 billion people – or 40% of the world’s population – still live without improved sanitation. A direct consequence of these statistics is that some three million people die from water-related diseases each year, the vast majority of whom are children less than five years old. The report also identifies water pollution as a major cause of poor health and poverty. Such figures make the work of Miguel Angel Blesa, a chemist working at the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) in Argentina, of potential benefit to millions. In 2004, Blesa was awarded the TWAS Prize in Chemistry for his research on inorganic oxides and catalyzed reactions that occur at the interface between water and solids.
Basic research on the chemical reactions that take place at the interfaces between water and simple inorganic compounds has led to the development of new technologies to disinfect and decontaminate water for the surface. Blesa and his colleagues have explored the way the pollutant is bound to the surface using
spectroscopic methods, especially attenuated total reflection - Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), which can be used to examine low concentrations of compounds in samples. The fingerprints of the species formed on the titanium surface are thus obtained, which provides information about their structure and their thermodynamic stability.
To read more about Blesa’s research, please download the full article from the TWAS website (Click on link below)