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Intimate coupled photocatalysis and biodegradation on a novel TiO2-coated biofilm carrier

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Intimate coupling of Ti2 photocatalysis and biodegradation (ICPB) offers potential for degrading biorecalcitrant and toxic organic compounds much better than possible with conventional wastewater treatments. This study reports on using

Intimate coupling of Ti2 photocatalysis and biodegradation (ICPB) offers potential for degrading biorecalcitrant and toxic organic compounds much better than possible with conventional wastewater treatments. This study reports on using a novel sponge-type, Ti2-coated biofilm carrier that shows significant adherence of Ti2 to its exterior and the ability to accumulate biomass in its interior (protected from UV light and free radicals). First, this carrier was tested for ICPB in a continuous-flow photocatalytic circulating-bed biofilm reactor (PCBBR) to mineralize biorecalcitrant organic: 2,4,5-trichlorophenol (TCP). Four mechanisms possibly acting of ICPB were tested separately: TCP adsorption, UV photolysis/photocatalysis, and biodegradation. The carrier exhibited strong TCP adsorption, while photolysis was negligible. Photocatalysis produced TCP-degradation products that could be mineralized and the strong adsorption of TCP to the carrier enhanced biodegradation by relieving toxicity. Validating the ICPB concept, biofilm was protected inside the carriers from UV light and free radicals. ICPB significantly lowered the diversity of the bacterial community, but five genera known to biodegrade chlorinated phenols were markedly enriched. Secondly, decolorization and mineralization of reactive dyes by ICPB were investigated on a refined Ti2-coated biofilm carrier in a PCBBR. Two typical reactive dyes: Reactive Black 5 (RB5) and Reactive Yellow 86 (RY86), showed similar first-order kinetics when being photocatalytically decolorized at low pH (~4-5), which was inhibited at neutral pH in the presence of phosphate or carbonate buffer, presumably due to electrostatic repulsion from negatively charged surface sites on Ti2, radical scavenging by phosphate or carbonate, or both. In the PCBBR, photocatalysis alone with Ti2-coated carriers could remove RB5 and COD by 97% and 47%, respectively. Addition of biofilm inside macroporous carriers maintained a similar RB5 removal efficiency, but COD removal increased to 65%, which is evidence of ICPB despite the low pH. A proposed ICPB pathway for RB5 suggests that a major intermediate, a naphthol derivative, was responsible for most of the residual COD. Finally, three low-temperature sintering methods, called O, D and DN, were compared based on photocatalytic efficiency and Ti2 adherence. The DN method had the best Ti2-coating properties and was a successful carrier for ICPB of RB5 in a PCBBR.

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  • 2011