Electrochemically assisted photocatalysis for the simultaneous degradation of organic micro-contaminants and inactivation of microorganisms in water

I. Salmerón, P. K. Sharma, M. I. Polo-López, A. Tolosana, S. McMichael, I. Oller, J. A. Byrne, P. Fernández-Ibáñez

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    This study presents the assessment of the performance of a photoelectrochemical reactor for the simultaneous degradation of organic microcontaminants (OMCs) and inactivation of bacteria in real surface water. Target OMCs were terbutryn, clorfenvinphos and diclofenac (500 μg L-1 each), and E. coli K12 (106 CFU mL−1) was used as the model microorganism. The reactor utilised a photoanode consisting of two Ti mesh electrodes anodised to give aligned self-assembled TiO2 nanotubes on the surface. Two cathode materials were investigated i.e. Pt and carbon felt. Higher E. coli inactivation rates were observed with electrochemically assisted photocatalysis (EAP) with a 2-Log Reduction Value (LRV) for Pt and 2.7-LRV in 2 h for carbon felt cathode, as compared to only a 0.8 LRV for photocatalysis (open circuit). For the simultaneous degradation of OMCs and inactivation of bacteria a 4.5-LRV was achieved in 90 min with applied potential and a carbon felt cathode. Similar degradation kinetics were observed for the OMC for both electrochemically assisted photocatalysis and photocatalysis (open circuit) with ca 70 % of the removal of the total OMCs in 60 min. Hydroxyl radical, H2O2 and chlorine generation were also evaluated to elucidate the mechanisms of degradation and disinfection. This work suggests that electrochemically assisted photocatalysis is more efficient than photocatalysis alone for the combined removal of OMCs and disinfection of water.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)488-496
    Number of pages9
    JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
    Early online date1 Oct 2020
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Mar 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This research has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 via the Marie Curie Action under the grant agreement number 734560 (ALICE), and the research and innovation program under the grant agreement number 820718, which is jointly funded by the European Commission and the Department of Science and Technology of India (PANIWATER).

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 Institution of Chemical Engineers

    Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Carbon-felt cathode
    • Escherichia coli
    • Organic microcontaminants
    • Photoelectrocatalysis
    • TiO nanotubes photoanode
    • Water purification


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