Worldwide Research Trends on Solar-Driven Water Disinfection

Menta Ballesteros, Celeste Brindley, José Antonio Sánchez-Pérez, Pilar Fernández-Ibañez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Ensure access to water for all”, states Goal 6 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This worldwide challenge requires identifying the best water disinfection method for each scenario. Traditional methods have limitations, which include low effectiveness towards certain pathogens and the formation of disinfection byproducts. Solar-driven methods, such as solar water disinfection (SODIS) or solar photocatalysis, are novel, effective, and financially and environmentally sustainable alternatives. We have conducted a critical study of publications in the field of water disinfection using solar energy and, hereby, present the first bibliometric analysis of scientific literature from Elsevier’s Scopus database within the last 20 years. Results show that in this area of growing interest USA, Spain, and China are the most productive countries in terms of publishing, yet Europe hosts the most highly recognized research groups, i.e., Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, and UK. We have also reviewed the journals in which researchers mostly publish and, using a systematic approach to determine the actual research trends and gaps, we have analyzed the capacity of these publications to answer key research questions, pinpointing six clusters of keywords in relation to the main research challenges, open areas, and new applications that lie ahead. Most publications focused on SODIS and photocatalytic nanomaterials, while a limited number focused on ensuring adequate water disinfection levels, testing regulated microbial indicators and emerging pathogens, and real-world applications, which include complex matrices, large scale processes, and exhaustive cost evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9396
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number17
Early online date6 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sep 2021


  • Disinfection
  • Inactivation
  • Pathogens
  • Photocatalysis
  • Solar
  • Water recycling


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