- Leter from Dr. Julie Brisset (Principal Investigator of the Arecibo Observatory)13 Sep, 2022
- Arecibo Deputy Principal Scientist to Explore the Cosmos with the JWST02 Sep, 2022
- Letter from the Director22 Aug, 2022
- Piercing through the Clouds of Venus with Arecibo Radar17 Aug, 2022
- Summer greetings from the Facilities and Operations Team!17 Aug, 2022
- Arecibo Observatory at the Small Bodies Assessment Group12 Aug, 2022
- Meet the 2022 Arecibo Observatory REU students!11 Aug, 2022
- Meet Luis R. Rivera Gabriel, Research Intern in the Planetary Radar Group09 Aug, 2022
- Updates from the 2022 CEDAR Workshop in Austin, TX09 Aug, 2022
- Insights into the AAS Conference from AO Analyst Anna McGilvray08 Aug, 2022
- American Astronomical Society’s 240th Meeting: Plenary Lecture Building the Future of Radio Science with the Arecibo Observatory by Dr. Héctor Arce. 28 Jul, 2022
- TRENDS 202227 Jul, 2022
- Advancing IDEA in Planetary Science 27 Jul, 2022
- The Arecibo Observatory: An Engine for Science and Scientists in Puerto Rico and Beyond27 Jul, 2022
- Cryogenic Frontend work for the 12m telescope entering phase II21 Jul, 2022
- Remote Optical Facility Updates20 Jul, 2022
Byadmin08 March 2021 General
While most of the scientists at the Arecibo Observatory are looking up into Earth’s atmosphere and into space, Dr. Abniel Machín de Jesús is focused on issues below our feet: replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable resources.
In a new study published in Biomimetics, Dr. Machín and his team analyzed catalysts - substances that accelerate the rates of chemical reactions - that are able to produce hydrogen via water splitting using only sunlight.
“Hydrogen has been considered as a replacement for fossil fuels,” says Dr. Machín. “Finding new, cheap, efficient and green ways to produce energy is a key goal for a sustainable future.”
The team also studied how these same catalysts could be used to degrade organic pollutants. Specifically, they looked at how antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin can be broken down.
“Antibiotics are incompletely metabolized by humans and are excreted mostly through urine and stool,” Dr. Machín explains. “Ciprofloxacin has been detected in appreciable quantities in continental waters and reservoirs because it is highly resistant to degradation”.
“Finding new, cheap, efficient and green ways to produce energy is a key goal for a sustainable future.” - Dr. A. Machín, Executive Director of the Science & Visitor Center of the Arecibo Observatory
The concern is that bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotics when they are later ingested through the medicine-contaminated drinking water, making the drug less effective when it is needed for health purposes.
“Ultimately, we want to develop photocatalysts that are able to mimic nature to produce energy,” says Dr. Machín. Their next step is to look at photocatalysts that do not contain metals, like the silver-based photocatalysts that were used in this project, to find efficient ways to degrade antibiotics and replace fossil fuels.
With degrees in both chemistry and environmental sciences, this research was uniquely well-suited for Dr. Machín to pursue. While it is not directly related to his work as the Executive Director of the Science & Visitor Center of the Arecibo Observatory, he notes that he “always tries to talk about and inspire the visitors by describing other STEM areas, including chemistry, nanotechnology, biology and how they can be relevant to Arecibo”.
Text provided by Tracy Becker - AO Collaborator/SWRI Research Scientist
Keywords: arecibo, observatory, machin, Antibiotics, fossil, fuels, Ciprofloxacin, clean, waters, energy