A review of photoelectrocatalytic reactors for water and wastewater treatment

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The photoexcitation of suitable semiconducting materials in aqueous environments can lead to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can inactivate microorganisms and degrade a range of chemical compounds. In the case of heterogeneous photocatalysis, semiconducting materials may suffer from fast recombination of electron–hole pairs and require post-treatment to separate the photocatalyst when a suspension system is used. To reduce recombination and improve the rate of degradation, an externally applied electrical bias can be used where the semiconducting material is immobilised onto an electrically conducive support and connected to a counter electrode. These electrochemically assisted photocatalytic systems have been termed “photoelectrocatalytic” (PEC). This review will explain the fundamental mechanism of PECs, photoelectrodes, the different types of PEC reactors reported in the literature, the (photo)electrodes used, the contaminants degraded, the key findings and prospects in the research area.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1198
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number9
Early online date26 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Department for Economy (DfE) Northern Ireland for funding Stuart McMichael. SAFEWA-TER project sponsored by Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) UK Research and Innovation (SAFEWATER; EPSRC Grant Reference EP/P032427/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Advanced oxidation process
  • Electrochemical assisted photocatalysis
  • PEC reactor
  • Photoelectrocatalytic
  • Photoelectrodes
  • Wastewater
  • Water


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