Green technology for pharmaceuticals removal from water using eco-friendly oxidation catalysts

PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2019-3166 (299PED/2020)

Catalytic ozonation is a highly efficient process for removing the most resistant organic pollutants from water and is a key process in wastewater treatment. Catalysts are the core of the process and, in the last decade, numerous studies and patents proposed a large range of materials for better ozone transformation into hydroxyl radicals and performing complete oxidation of the organic substrate.

Project goal

This project proposes a new and innovative class of ozonation catalysts with a morphology that assures an easy contact of ozone and pollutants with solid surface (thin-films) and green and cheaper technology for catalyst preparation using plant extracts instead of harmful chemical reagents (borohydride and organic solvents).

Contracting authority: Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI)

Implementation period: 03/08/2020-03/08/2022

Budget: 230.000 lei

Project responsible: Dr. Habil. Irina Fierăscu

  • Partners
  • General objectives
  • Phase I
  • Phase II
  • Phase III
  • Results dissemination


University of Bucharest,

Project Manager: Dr. Chim. Sorin Marius Avramescu

Partner 1:

National Institute for Research & Development in Chemistry and Petrochemistry – ICECHIM

Project responsible: Dr. Habil. Irina Fierăscu

Partner 2:

S.C. I.C.P.E. Bistrița S.A., Bistriţa-Năsăud, România,

Project responsible: Dr. ing. Sorin Claudiu Ulinici

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General objectives

The project objective is to obtain a new water treatment technology for NSAIDs removal based on the catalytic ozonation process with photosynthesized catalytic systems arranged in the form of thin films deposited on a glass substrate. The specific objectives of the present projects are:

1) synthesis and characterization of phytosynthesized oxidic nanostructures for further utilization as catalysts;

2) obtaining catalytic systems arranged in the form of thin films deposited on a glass substrate;

3) demonstration of the treatment efficiency of the obtained nanostructures for NSAIDs removal (Paracetamol and Ibuprofen),

4) validation of the proposed technologies (obtaining materials and purification alternatives) at laboratory scale and via third parties by subcontracting. 

Phase I

Development of laboratory protocols and preliminary tests for the development of innovative wastewater treatment technology. Dissemination of the results and evolution of the project on various platforms.

Deployment period: 03/08/2020 – 31/12/2020

Activities carried out by the partner ICECHIM:

  • Elaboration of laboratory protocols for the preparation of plant extracts by classical methods, and microwave-assisted extraction.
  • Elaboration of laboratory protocols for the characterization of plant extracts by evaluating the global parameters: total flavonoids, reducing sugars, tannins, total polyphenols, etc.
  • Participation in the creation of the project website for continuous information of stakeholders on the evolution of the project;
  • Elaboration of laboratory protocols for the characterization of thin films by XRD, XRF, SEM, TEM, TG / DTG methods.
  • Obtaining nanoparticles dispersed in liquid systems using extracts prepared by classical methods / microwave extraction and inorganic precursors. Characterization of nanostructured films by modern techniques;
  • Characterization of pre- and post-treatment catalytic systems. Evaluation of the influence of multiple use of catalytic systems on morpho-structural properties;
Phase II

Optimization of thin film preparation technology and laboratory technology for the treatment of organic pollutants by oxidative processes.

Deployment period: 01/01/2021 – 31/12/2021

Activities carried out by the partner ICECHIM:

  • Optimizing the process of preparing thin films;
  • Morpho-structural characterization of thin films using modern analytical techniques.
Phase III

Validation of laboratory technology

Deployment period: 01/01/2022 – 03/08/2022

Activities carried out by the partner ICECHIM:

  • Demonstration of the efficiency of the proposed technology by post-treatment characterization of catalytic systems;
  • Characterization of catalytic systems after each operating cycle;
  • Development of technical documentation for water catalytic treatment technologies and thin film catalytic systems synthesis.
Results dissemination

The project was presented at inventions and innovations exhibitions, with the following results:

  • International Exhibition of Inventions and Innovations “Traian Vuia”, 2020, Timisoara (silver medal)
  • International Exhibition of Research, Innovations and Inventions – ProInvent 2020, Cluj-Napoca

The contribution of the ICECHIM partner to the dissemination of the results materialized through:

1.participation in specialized scientific events:

  • XVIth International Symposium “Priorities of Chemistry for a Sustainable Development” PRIOCHEM XVI, October 28-30, 2020

2.publishication in scientific journals:

  • Iron Oxide/Phosphatic Materials Composites with Potential Applications in Environmental Protection, Georgiana Cornelia Ispas, Raluca Manea, Roxana Ioana Brazdis, Anda Maria Baroi, Toma Fistos, Radu Claudiu Fierascu, Monica Florentina Raduly, Materials 2020, 13, 5034; doi:10.3390/ma13215034