Analysis of photocatalysis for precursor removal and formation inhibition of disinfection byproducts
Disinfection byproducts are the result of reactions between natural organic matter (NOM) and a disinfectant. The formation and speciation of DBP formation is largely dependent on the disinfectant used and the natural organic matter (NOM) concentration and composition. This study examined the use of photocatalysis with titanium dioxide for the oxidation and removal of DBP precursors (NOM) and the inhibition of DBP formation. Water sources were collected from various points in the treatment process, treated with photocatalysis, and chlorinated to analyze the implications on total trihalomethane (TTHM) and the five haloacetic acids (HAA5) formations. The three sub-objectives for this study included: the comparison of enhanced and standard coagulation to photocatalysis for the removal of DBP precursors; the analysis of photocatalysis and characterization of organic matter using size exclusion chromatography and fluorescence spectroscopy and excitation-emission matrices; and the analysis of photocatalysis before GAC filtration. There were consistencies in the trends for each objective including reduced DBP precursors, measured as dissolved organic carbon DOC concentration and UV absorbance at 254 nm. Both of these parameters decreased with increased photocatalytic treatment and could be due in part to the adsorption to as well as the oxidation of NOM on the TiO2 surface. This resulted in lower THM and HAA concentrations at Medium and High photocatalytic treatment levels. However, at No UV exposure and Low photocatalytic treatment levels where oxidation reactions were inherently incomplete, there was an increase in THM and HAA formation potential, in most cases being significantly greater than those found in the raw water or Control samples. The size exclusion chromatography (SEC) results suggest that photocatalysis preferentially degrades the higher molecular mass fraction of NOM releasing lower molecular mass (LMM) compounds that have not been completely oxidized. The molecular weight distributions could explain the THM and HAA formation potentials that decreased at the No UV exposure samples but increased at Low photocatalytic treatment levels. The use of photocatalysis before GAC adsorption appears to increase bed life of the contactors; however, higher photocatalytic treatment levels have been shown to completely mineralize NOM and would therefore not require additional GAC adsorption after photocatalysis.