This study was conducted in order to clarify whether photocatalyst flocculation – as observed in biologically pretreated greywater – contributes to photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) efficiency impairment. Aqueous solutions of tetraethyleneglycol dimethylether spiked with different inorganic salts in concentrations as found in biologically treated greywater were investigated with respect to TiO2 flocculation and PCO mineralisation kinetics. Flocculation of the photocatalyst primarily depended on pH (which was affected by the salts) and how close pH was to the point of zero charge (PZC). Photocatalyst agglomeration was maximum at pH 5.5. With salt concentrations >7 mmol L−1, flocculation was strong even at pH far above PZC due to electric double layer compression. PCO rate constants were not unequivocally related to flocculation. Increasing pH was observed as the clearest factor deteriorating PCO efficiency. This was interpreted to result from impaired adsorbability of negatively charged oxidation intermediates as well as from enhanced CO2 absorption with increasing pH and subsequent formation of HCO3− anions which are OH radical scavengers.
Keywords: greywater, inorganic matrix, photocatalyst flocculation, photocatalytic oxidation