Highly efficient ZnO photocatalytic foam reactors for micropollutant degradation

Thais Tasso Guaraldo, Reza Vakili, Jannis Wenk, Davide Mattia

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18 Citations (SciVal)
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The efficient removal of organic micropollutants, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, drugs, and others, remains an unsolved challenge in water treatment. Although photocatalysis has proven highly effective at degrading these substances, its large-scale implementation has been so far hampered by technical and economic concerns. This work describes the development and characterization of novel highly efficient, self-supporting photocatalytic ZnO foams for the degradation of organic micropollutants. A systematic investigation of flow rate, catalyst length and stability under both recirculating and single-pass conditions was conducted using carbamazepine as a UV-recalcitrant model pollutant. Under recirculation, 95 % degradation was achieved with photocatalyst quantum yield of 1.2 × 10−3 and electrical energy per order (EEO) as low as 24 kWh m−3, values outperforming current technology, slurry and immobilised systems. For single-pass tests, complete degradation was achieved in 30 min, with the quantum yield increasing to 6.3 × 10−3, and an EEO of 36 kWh m−3. These values also outperform those for slurries, immobilised and other foam photocatalyst reported in the literature under similar conditions. The low energy consumption of these newly developed photocatalytic foams, combined with their high quantum yield and stability, provides a realistic path towards practical implementation of photocatalytic processes in water treatment, addressing the limitations of existing slurry and immobilised photocatalytic technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140784
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online date5 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note


Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for EPSRC for funding support (Grant No. EP/P031382/1). The authors acknowledge the Material and Chemical Characterisation Facility (MC2) at the University of Bath. We are also grateful to Mr. Paul Frith for the technical support on the reactor design. The authors acknowledge James Andy Milton and the National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton for the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) analysis. The authors acknowledge Dr. Daniel F. Segura for artwork support. All data produced during this research are available from the University of Bath open access data archive at (doi: 10.15125/BATH-01116).


  • Energy efficiency
  • Photocatalysis
  • Photocatalytic foams
  • Recirculation reactor
  • Single pass reactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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