Photocatalytic Disinfection of Bacterial Pollutants Using Suspended and Immobilized TiO2 Powders

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Corresponding author email: g.will@qut.edu.au (Geoffrey Will)

Abstract

The photocatalytic disinfection of Enterobacter cloacae and Enterobacter coli using microwave (MW), convection hydrothermal (HT) and Degussa P25 titania was investigated in suspension and immobilized reactors. In suspension reactors, MW-treated TiO2 was the most efficient catalyst (per unit weight of catalyst) for the disinfection of E. cloacae. However, HT-treated TiO2 was approximately 10 times more efficient than MW or P25 titania for the disinfection of E. coli suspensions in surface water using the immobilized reactor. In immobilized experiments, using surface water a significant amount of photolysis was observed using the MW- and HT-treated films; however, disinfection on P25 films was primarily attributed to photocatalysis. Competitive action of inorganic ions and humic substances for hydroxyl radicals during photocatalytic experiments, as well as humic substances physically screening the cells from UV and hydroxyl radical attack resulted in low rates of disinfection. A decrease in colony size (from 1.5 to 0.3 mm) was noted during photocatalytic experiments. The smaller than average colonies were thought to occur during sublethal OH and O2•− attack. Catalyst fouling was observed following experiments in surface water and the ability to regenerate the surface was demonstrated using photocatalytic degradation of oxalic acid as a model test system.

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