Currently, the use of photocatalysis to clean up polluted air is an ideal alternative that mimics the process of nature, with great potential to be developed as a key technology for air purification. Also, at a time when air purification technologies require great advances, researchers are analyzing how photocatalysis can benefit the population and what limitations it has against other options.
In general, the most appropriate application of photocatalytic air purification appears to be indoor air, where pollutants and interfering substances, such as dust and aerosols, can be controlled to a minimum. The ideal scenario for cleaning the indoor photocatalytic air is to use the room’s ambient light, which requires the development of more active materials that respond to visible light.
What are the most important advantages of photocatalytic air purification?
Currently, the purification of photocatalytic air offers the following advantages:
- Unlike other systems, no chemicals or external energy input are needed, except for light, which is not expensive when using ambient light or sunlight.
- It can be used safely under environmental conditions and activity relatively insensitive to moisture.
- Large capacity to fully mineralize volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to CO2 and H2O.
- Unlike other options, the purification of photocatalytic air does not retain particles or contaminants, as these are eradicated or transformed in their entirety.
- Most photocatalytic air purification systems do not require constant maintenance, with 3 years being the minimum time in most cases.
What are the most important limitations of photocatalytic air purification?
Although it seems that the purification of photocatalytic air is the definitive solution to preserve indoor air quality, the truth is that this alternative also has certain limitations:
- The development of this technology is slow, as is the production of the materials needed for its operation.
- Most photocatalysis processes are still at an early stage, so more in-depth studies are needed to elucidate synergistic mechanisms and solve practical engineering problems.
- Research in the field of photocatalysis should focus not only on scientific development but also on the resolution and attention to everyday problems related to poor air quality. This last point does not yet have definitive solutions.
To learn more about photocatalytic air purification, see the following article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-22839-0