Investigation of the efficiency of a tubular continuous-flow photoreactor with supported titanium dioxide nanoparticles in the removal of 4-nitrophenol: operational parameters, kinetics analysis and mineralization studies

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In this study, to investigate the application of heterogeneous photocatalysis in the removal of organic contaminants from aqueous media a novel tubular continuous-flow photoreactor with supported TiO2-P25 on glass plates was designed and constructed. The photoreactor comprises six quartz tubes and a UV lamp which was placed in the center of the quartz tubes. 4-nitrophenol (4-NP) as a most refractory pollutant was chosen as a probe pollutant to examine the photoreactor efficiency for environmental cleaning applications. Results of experiments show that the removal efficiency of 4-NP in this photoreactor is a function of photoreactor length, gas and liquid flow rates and 4-NP initial concentration. Kinetics analysis indicates that degradation of 4-NP in continuous-mode can be modeled with the Langmuir–Hinshelwood (L–H) model (kL–H = 1.5 mg L−1 min−1, Kads = 0.11 mg−1 L). A design equation was obtained with a combination of L–H modified equation and tubular reactor design equation. This equation can be used for estimation of 4-NP concentration in different photoreactor lengths under various operational parameters. Mineralization study was followed through total organic carbon (TOC) analysis and measurement of nitrite and nitrate as final degradation products.

Keywords: advanced oxidation processes (AOPs), continuous-flow photoreactor, heterogeneous photocatalysis, kinetics analysis, 4-nitrophenol

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