Disclosed is a method for separating a vaporous or gaseous contaminant from an air stream contaminated therewith. This method includes the steps of: (a) passing said contaminated air into a contact zone in which is disposed an aerogel material capable of selecting adsorbing said contaminant from air and therein contacting said contaminated air with an aerogel material; and (b) withdrawing from said zone, air depleted of said contaminant. For present purposes, "contaminant" means a material not naturally occurring in ambient air and/or a material naturally occurring in air but present at a concentration above that found in ambient air. Thus, the present invention scrubs (or treats) air for the purpose of returning it to its ambient composition. Also disclosed herein is a process for the photocatalytic destruction of contaminants from an air stream wherein the contaminated air stream is passed into a control cell or contact zone in which is disposed a photocatalytic aerogel and exposing said aerogel to ultraviolet (UV) radiation for photocatalytically destroying the adsorbed contaminant, and withdrawing from said cell an exhaust air stream depleted in said contaminant.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention, in part, was made with Government support under Grant No. DE FG51-92R020214, awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The Government may have certain rights in this invention.