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International Journal of Photoenergy
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 927132, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/927132
Research Article

Photocatalytic Degradation of Rhodamine B with H3PW12O40/SiO2 Sensitized by H2O2

Hubei Key Laboratory of Pollutant Analysis & Reuse Technology, College of Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, Hubei Normal University, Huangshi 435002, China

Received 25 July 2012; Accepted 31 August 2012

Academic Editor: Huogen Yu

Copyright © 2012 Shuijin Yang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In order to remove aquatic organic dye contaminants by utilizing the inexpensive and inexhaustible solar energy, the Keggin-type H3PW12O40 was loaded on the surface of SiO2 with the sol-gel method and sensitized by H2O2 solution. The photocatalytic degradation of rhodamine B (RhB) by H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) under simulated natural light irradiation was investigated. The effects of the initial RhB concentration, the solution pH, and catalyst dosage on the photocatalytic degradation rate of RhB were also studied. The results demonstrated that at optimal condition (initial concentration of methyl orange is 10 mg/L, catalyst dosage is 0.8 g, and the pH is 2.5) the degradation rate of RhB is as high as 97.7% after 2 h under simulated natural light irradiation. The reaction of photocatalysis for RhB can be expressed as a first-order kinetic model.

1. Introduction

Environmental pollution caused by organic dyes has become a worldwide problem. Those dyes are often used in textiles, papers, leathers, food, and cosmetics. It is essential to develop methods that can lead to destruction of such compounds. A variety of common treatment techniques including condensation, ultrafiltration, membrane separation, and adsorption have become the main technology for treatment of organic pollutants [1, 2]. However, these methods often transferred organic pollutants to the other phases and not degraded completely to nontoxic substances [35]. So, the development of advanced low cost and high efficiency water treatment technologies is desirable.

Advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) in organic pollutants degradation have shown outstanding advantages, which have the potential to completely oxidize organic compounds to CO2, H2O, and other inorganic substances [68]. Among these AOPs, photocatalytic degradation by semiconductor catalysts has been investigated widely during the past decade. A number of semiconductor materials such as TiO2 [9, 10], ZnO [11], Fe2O3 [12], Bi2WO6 [13], H2WO4 · H2O/Ag/AgCl [14], Ag2O [15], and SrTiO3 [16] were used in photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants. Among them, the use of TiO2 as a photocatalyst to degrade organic pollutants has recieved extensive attention due to its high activity, low cost, chemical stability, and nontoxicity [17, 18]. But this photocatalyst is activated only by ultraviolet (UV) light (wavelength < 387 nm) due to its band gap of 3.2 eV. Since UV light only accounts for less than 5% of the solar energy that reaches the surface of the earth, the photocatalytic activity of pure TiO2 cannot be effectively activated under solar light irradiation, which limits its practical application [19, 20].

In recent years, the development of photocatalysts with a visible light response has been extensively studied. For this purpose, TiO2 has been modified by various ways such as impurity doping inorganic compound [21, 22] and dye sensitization [23] to obtain visible light reactivity [24, 25]. Polyoxometalates (POMs) have also attracted much attention as photocatalysts because they generally share the same photochemical characteristics of semiconductor photocatalysts such as TiO2 [26, 27]. The excited POMs, produced after light absorption is able to completely degrade organic compounds, either directly or via OH radicals-mediated oxidations [28]. A problem of POMs catalysts used to degrade pollutants in homogeneous systems is that they are difficult to separate from the reaction system at the end of the reaction, which precludes their recovery and reuse. POMs should be supported on a support to improve the catalytic performance in the reaction [29]. SiO2 was an ideal support because it exhibits higher surface area, chemical inertness, controlled porosity and well disperses for POMs while retaining the structure. Unfortunately, the photocatalysis of POMs/SiO2 are concentrated on UV irradiation [30]. Aiming at utilizing the inexpensive and inexhaustible solar energy, we attempted to use a simple and efficient method to improve their photocatalytic activity.

In this paper, H3PW12O40/SiO2 was prepared by a sol-gel technique, and sensitized by H2O2 solution. The photocatalytic degradation of RhB with the catalyst under simulated natural light irradiation was investigated.

2. Experimental

2.1. Preparation of Samples

H3PW12O40/SiO2 was synthesized according to references [26, 30] by a sol-gel technique. An amount of H3PW12O40 was dissolved in 26 mL of H2O, and a stoichiometric amount of TEOS was mixed with 1-BuOH. The latter was added dropwise to the aqueous solution. The resultant was allowed to stir at room temperature for 1 h, at 45°C for 1 h, and then at 80°C until a uniform gel was formed. The hydrogel obtained was dehydrated slowly at 45°C for 16 h in vacuum, and then at 90°C for 3.5 h. Thus, the silica network was fastened and the removal of the H3PW12O40 molecules from it was avoided. The particulate gel was washed with hot water for several times until the filtrate was neutral, and then the products were calcined for the required duration. The acetalization of cyclohexanone with 1, 2-propanediol was used as a probe to study the preparation conditions of catalyst, and the optimum conditions are as follows the loading of H3PW12O40 is 30 wt% calcination temperature is 200°C; and calcination time is 4 h.

H3PW12O40/SiO2 was treated by H2O2 as follows [17]: 1 g H3PW12O40/SiO2 was added into 15 mL 30% H2O2 solution and sonicated the mixture for 20 min. The slurry mixture was filtrated and dried at room temperature. This catalyst is denoted as H3PW12O40/SiO2(x).

2.2. Characterization

The FT-IR spectra of the samples in KBr matrix were recorded on a Nicolet 5700 FT-IR spectrometer in the range 400–4000 cm−1. The X-ray powder diffraction pattern of the samples was measured by a Bruker AXS D8-Advanced diffractometer (Bruker, Germany) employing Cu Kα radiation. The UV-vis diffuse reflectance spectra (UV-vis/DRS) were recorded on a spectrophotometer with an integrating sphere (Shmadzu UV-2550), and BaSO4 was used as a reference sample.

2.3. Activity Test

For the evaluation of catalyst activity, the catalyst was suspended in an aqueous solution of rhodamine B (RhB) in a Pyrex reactor. The photoreactor was designed with a light source surrounded by a quartz jacket. Simulated sunlight irradiation was provided by a 500 W xenon lamp (Nanjing Xujiang Electromechanical Factory, China), and the intensity of the lamp was 1200 μmol · m−2 · s−1. Solution pH was adjusted with dilute aqueous HCl and NaOH solutions. The system was cooled by circulating water and maintained at room temperature. Before irradiation, the suspensions were magnetically stirred in the dark for 30 min to reach the adsorption–desorption equilibrium of organic dyes on catalyst surface. At given time intervals, about 3 mL suspension was continually taken from the photoreactor for subsequent RhB concentration analysis after centrifuging. Decreases of the RhB concentrations were monitored via a UV-visible spectrometer (Hitachi U-3010, Japan). The degradation yield of organics was calculated by the following formula: where and referred to the absorbance of RhB before and after reaction, respectively.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Characterization of the Catalysts

The FT-IR spectra of H3PW12O40 (a), H3PW12O40/SiO2 (b), and H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) (c) are shown in Figure 1. As shown in Figure 1, pure H3PW12O40 gives peaks due to the Keggin structure at 1080, 985, 890, and 794 cm−1. In addition, the band at 1662 cm−1, which is the bending mode of the water, indicates the presence of the water. When H3PW12O40 is supported on SiO2, these bands have somewhat changed. The bands at 1080 and 890 cm−1 are overlapped by the characteristic band of SiO2, while these bands at 985 and 794 cm−1 shift to 950 and 803 cm−1, respectively. The spectrum of H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) is similar to that of H3PW12O40/SiO2. It can be concluded that the Keggin geometry of H3PW12O40 is still kept [31]. Meanwhile, it indicates that a strong chemical interaction exists between the H3PW12O40 and silica.

927132.fig.001
Figure 1: FT-IR spectra of H3PW12O40 (a), H3PW12O40/SiO2 (b), and H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) (c).

POMs could be supported as molecules or aggregates on the supports. Figure 2 shows the X-ray diffraction patterns of H3PW12O40 (a), H3PW12O40/SiO2 (b), and H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) (c). The characteristic diffraction peaks of H3PW12O40 at 8–10°, 17–20°, 26–30°, and 32–35° can be assigned to the diffraction characteristic peaks of crystalline H3PW12O40 Keggin structure [31]. For H3PW12O40/SiO2 and H3PW12O40/SiO2(x), only a broad band at 2θ = 24° that can be assigned to the diffraction peaks of amorphous silica is observed, and the signals of H3PW12O40 are disappeared. So it is reasonable to consider that H3PW12O40 is highly dispersed on the surface of silica support without any aggregation.

927132.fig.002
Figure 2: XRD patterns of H3PW12O40 (a), H3PW12O40/SiO2(b), and H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) (c).

The diffusing reflectance UV-Vis spectra (UV-DRS) of the catalysts are directly related to their photochemical behavior. The UV-DRS of the samples were characterized, and the results are shown in Figure 3. From the Figure 3, it can be seen clearly the characteristic absorption peaks at 260 nm which was attributed to O-W charge transfer of the Keggin unit at W-O-W bond. Their characteristics are similar to pure H3PW12O40.This can be assigned to the Keggin geometry of H3PW12O40 [31]. It is worthy to note that an absorption tail extending from the UV to the visible region in the UV-DRS of H3PW12O40/SiO2(x). Therefore, it is concluded that the sensitizing effect maybe have obvious influence on the photocatalytic activity of catalyst.

927132.fig.003
Figure 3: UV-vis/DRS of H3PW12O40/SiO2 and H3PW12O40/SiO2(x).
3.2. Investigation of Photocatalytic Activity of Catalysts
3.2.1. Comparison of Photocatalytic Activity of Catalysts

In order to observe the effect of H2O2 treatment on the catalytic activity of H3PW12O40/SiO2, comparison of photocatalytic activity of catalysts was carried out at the initial RhB concentration of 10 mg/L, pH 2.5, and 0.5 g of catalyst, and the results are shown in Figure 4.

927132.fig.004
Figure 4: Comparison of photocatalytic activity before and after treatment of catalysts, and under no light or without catalyst.

As seen from Figure 4, after 2 h irradiation under the same conditions, no obvious RhB degradation was observed without any catalyst or light. However, in the presence of H3PW12O40/SiO2, the degradation yield of RhB is about 44.0%, while with H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) the degradation yield can reach to 92.7%. Since the H3PW12O40/SiO2 is illuminated by ultraviolet light, which represents 3 to 5% of the total solar radiation. This is consistent with previous reports [26, 30]. So the photodegradation reaction of RhB in the presence of H3PW12O40/SiO2(x) is more effectively than that of H3PW12O40/SiO2.

3.2.2. Effect of the Initial Concentration of Dye

To investigate the influence of initial concentration on the degradation efficiency of RhB, the initial concentration was varied from 5 to 20 mg/L, keeping the other experimental conditions constant.

As can be seen in Figure 5, the degradation rate decreased with increase of initial concentration of RhB. This might be due to the excessive adsorption of the RhB molecules on the surface of catalyst at higher concentration. Moreover, light through the solution is reduced significantly. Thus, the efficiency of degradation was decreased in the higher concentration. It was further observed that the activity decreased slightly from 5 to 10 mg/L of the initial concentration of dye. From the practical point of wastewater treatment, the initial concentration of the 10 mg/L is more appropriate.

927132.fig.005
Figure 5: Effect of the initial RhB concentration on the photocatalytic degradation rate of RhB.
3.2.3. Effect of pH

It is well known that the pH of the solution is one of the most important parameters in the photocatalytic degradation of organic compounds. This is attributed to that the pH does not only determine chemical properties of the photocatalyst but also influences adsorption behaviour of the pollutants. Therefore, the effect of pH on the degradation of RhB was studied at pH range from 2.5 to 12.

As shown in Figure 6, the most effective pH condition is at 2.5. This may be ascribed to the fact that the pH value could influence the amount of hydroxyl radicals (OH·) formed [21] and the stable of H3PW12O40. So the optimum pH of the solution is 2.5.

927132.fig.006
Figure 6: Effect of the solution pH on the photocatalytic degradation rate of RhB.
3.2.4. Effect of Catalyst Dosage

The catalyst dosage is also an important parameter for optimizing the operational conditions. Therefore, the effect of catalyst dosage on the degradation of RhB was investigated in the catalyst dosage from 0.2 to 1.2 g, and the result shown was in Figure 7. The results indicated that the degradation rate gradually increased with increase of catalyst dosage from 0.2 to 0.8 g. However, the degradation efficiency decreased slightly with increase of catalyst dosage from 0.8 to 1.2 g. This may be attributed to the fact that the surplus catalyst can scatter the photons in the photoreaction system.

927132.fig.007
Figure 7: Effect of catalyst dosage on the photocatalytic degradation rate of RhB.
3.3. Kinetic Analysis

It is well known that the photodegradation of organic dyes mainly follows first-order kinetics. The kinetics of photocatalytic degradation of RhB was also studied under optimized conditions. The results are shown in Figure 8.

927132.fig.008
Figure 8: Relation curve of and time ().

The results showed that the photocatalytic degradation of RhB over H3PW12O40/SiO2 (x) under simulated sunlight irradiation can be described by the first order kinetic model, , where is the rate constant (h−1), is the initial concentration, and is the concentration of dye at time . It can be seen for Figure 8 that the plots represented a straight line. The correlation constant for the line was 0.993. The rate constant was 1.8 h−1.

4. Conclusion

H3PW12O40/SiO2 was prepared by a sol-gel method and sensitized by H2O2 solution and significantly improved its catalytic activity under simulated natural light irradiation. The photocatalytic degradation of RhB by H3PW12O40/SiO2 (x) under simulated natural light irradiation was investigated. The results demonstrated that at optimal condition (initial concentration of methyl orange is 10 mg/L, catalyst dosage is 0.8 g, and the pH is 2.5), the degradation rate of RhB is as high as 97.7% after 2 h under simulated natural light irradiation. The reaction of photocatalysis for RhB can be expressed as first-order kinetic model.

Acknowledgments

This work was financially supported by the Young and Middle-Aged Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province Education Department (no. Q20112507 and, Q20082202) and Hubei Key Laboratory of Pollutant Analysis & Reuse Technology (no. KY2010G13).

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