New Zealand's water quality was once the envy of the world, but agricultural intensification threatens to change that. Overuse of fertilisers and increased quantities of animal waste have resulted in more nitrates entering our waterways than ever before.
Nitrate pollution promotes algal growth and starves a lake or river of oxygen, resulting in biodiversity loss and, ultimately, death of the ecosystem.
Current denitrification processes are slow and energy-intensive, but MacDiarmid Institute Associate Investigator Dr Anna Garden, University of Otago, is designing new nanocatalysts that could solve this problem.
Catalytic denitrification is a particularly promising method because, in principle, it could convert nitrate into harmless nitrogen, quickly and without generating dangerous by-products.
Ultimately, we're trying to discover new catalysts that will help us move toward a more sustainable future.Dr Anna Garden MacDiarmid Institute Associate Investigator University of Otago