Vacuum-UV (VUV) photoinduced degradation of the herbicide 2,4-D was studied. A flow-through VUV photoreactor was used (i) in batch mode to study the kinetics of degradation and (ii) in continuous mode under steady state to analyze the potential utilization of this process in commercial applications. In both cases, the reactants were recycled to minimize diffusive resistances. Experimental results from the batch studies showed that the initial degradation rate of 2,4-D in ultrapure water was independent of the initial concentration of the herbicide. However, a reduction in the reaction rate was obtained over the course of the treatment, largely due to the formation of 2,4-D partial oxidation by-products which compete with 2,4-D molecules for HO (scavenging effect). Increases in water alkalinity reduced 2,4-D degradation rate as a consequence of the scavenging of HO by carbonates and bicarbonates. The degradation of 2,4-D in raw surface waters was also investigated. A noticeable reduction in the degradation rate was observed because of the presence of NOM and alkalinity, both being known HO scavengers. Additionally, the presence of inorganic species/ions that absorb VUV may also have contributed to the reduction of the overall degradation rate. High conversions were obtained in the continuous system. At a residence time of 25 seconds, conversions of 97% and 65% were achieved for inlet herbicide concentrations of 1 and 10 mg L−1, respectively. Under these conditions, the received dose of 185 nm radiation was 44.8 mJ cm−2.
Keywords: 2,4-D, herbicides, photoreactor, vacuum-UV, water treatment