1. DeN – Innovative technologies for the abatement of N-containing pollutants in water

Awarded by Cariplo Fundation with 240,000 Euro (March 2016 – February 2019)

Principal investigator Prof. Ilenia Rossetti, in collaboration with Prof. Gianguido Ramis (University of Genoa) and Barbara Bonelli (Politecnico di Torino)

Visit the DEN website!

The development of effective methods for the abatement of some harmful pollutants from waste waters and from hydric resources is a challenging task. Nitrogen containing compounds, such as inorganic ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, and some organic N-containing compounds (dyes, pesticides, drugs, etc.), are harmful contaminants for drinking water, inducing acute and/or chronic diseases, especially affecting infants and children. Furthermore, when released in waste waters they contribute to eutrophication, or possibly contaminate ground water. This is particularly relevant in agriculturally intensive zones and in the case of some relevant industrial processes involving e.g. nitration reactions.


In the present project, we aim at developing innovative processes for the abatement of N-containing compounds, focusing on selectivity towards innocuous N2, to be applied for the treatment of waste waters to meet legislative specifications. The same processes, properly adapted and sized, may be also extended to the treatment of drinking water, for its potabilisation in particularly critical areas.

We will take advantage of the group experience in the development of unconventional catalytic and photocatalytic processes to propose a combined strategy for the elimination of all the mentioned species. This is a critical issue, because low abatement efficiency for N-containing pollutants has been evidenced when monitoring the depuration capability of Lombardy region, especially when dealing with small, decentralised plants (60-66% vs. a regional target of 75%).


In particular, we will deal with the following approaches to the problem:

Photoreduction of nitrates and nitrites.

– Photo-oxidation of NH3

– Photodegradation of N-containing organic compounds representing persistent pollutants in water. Some examples of dyes, pesticides and drugs will be considered in this frame.


2. UP – Unconventional Photoreactors

Awarded by Cariplo Fundation and Regione Lombardia with 55,000 Euro (October 2016 – July 2018)

Principal investigator Prof. Ilenia Rossetti

The grant was awarded because I. Rossetti presented a proposal for an ERC Consolidator grant in 2015, which was judged of very high quality by the reviewers. Therefore, this measure is intended as a reinforcement of the idea and of the researcher to become more competitive for a future ERC grant.

The project focuses on the sizing, design and modelling of unconventional photoreactors for different applications, mainly for the abatement of N-containing pollutants from water.


3. HERCULES – HEterogeneous Robust Catalysts to Upgrade Low valuE biomass Streams

Awarded by MIUR (PRIN2015) February 2017 – January 2020

Principal investigator Prof. Gianguido Ramis for the Unit UniGE, national coordinator Prof. A. Vaccari (UniBO)

The overall project aims at developing robust catalysts for the exploitation of biomass. Our research unit, located @UniGE, will focus on the development of a photocatalytic process to valorise sugar-containing solutions (waste or hydrolysed from waste biomass) for the production of hydrogen and fuels.