Conventional water purification and disinfection generally involve potentially hazardous substances, some of which known to be carcinogenic in nature. Titanium dioxide photocatalytic processes provide an effective route to destroy hazardous organic contaminants. This present work explores the possibility of the removal of organic pollutants (phenol) by the application of TiO2 based photocatalysts. The production of series of metal ions doped or undoped TiO2 were carried out via a sol-gel method and a wet impregnation method. Undoped TiO2 and Cu doped TiO2 showed considerable phenol degradation. The efficiency of photocatalytic reaction largely depends on the photocatalysts and the methods of preparation the photocatalysts. The doping of Fe, Mn, and humic acid at 1.0M% via sol-gel methods were detrimental for phenol degradation. The inhibitory effect of initial phenol concentration on initial phenol degradation rate reveals that photocatalytic decomposition of phenol follows pseudo zero order reaction kinetics. A concentration of>1g/L TiO2 and Cu doped TiO2 is required for the effective degradation of 50mg/L of phenol at neutral pH. The rise in OH- at a higher pH values provides more hydroxyl radicals which are beneficial of phenol degradation. However, the competition among phenoxide ion, Cl- and OH- for the limited number of reactive sites on TiO2 will be a negative influence in the generation of hydroxyl radical. The dependence of phenol degradation rate on the light intensity was observed, which also implies that direct sunlight can be a substitute for the UV lamps and that photocatalytic treatment of organic pollutants using this technique shows some promise.
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