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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 589185, 8 pages
Research Article

Photocatalytic Degradation of Nitro and Chlorophenols Using Doped and Undoped Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National University of Sciences and Technology, H-12, Islamabad, Pakistan

Received 19 February 2010; Revised 13 April 2010; Accepted 1 June 2010

Academic Editor: William W. Yu

Copyright © 2011 Hassan Ilyas 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.


Pure and Ag- nanoparticles were synthesized, with the metallic doping being done using the Liquid Impregnation (LI) method. The resulting nanoparticles were characterized by analytical methods such as scanning electron micrographs (SEMs), Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), and X-ray diffraction (XRD). XRD analysis indicated that the crystallite size of was 27?nm to 42?nm while the crystallite size of Ag- was 11.27?nm to 42.52?nm. The photocatalytic activity of pure and silver doped was tested by photocatalytic degradation of -nitrophenol as a model compound. Ag- nanoparticles exhibited better results (98% degradation) as compared to pure nanoparticles (83% degradation) in 1 hour for the degradation of -nitrophenol. Ag- was further used for the photocatalytic degradation of 2,4-dichlorphenol (99% degradation), 2,5-dichlorophenol (98% degradation), and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (96% degradation) in 1 hour. The degree of mineralization was tested by TOC experiment indicating that 2,4-DCP was completely mineralized, while 2,5-DCP was mineralized upto 95 percent and 2,4,6-TCP upto 86 percent within a period of 2 hours.

1. Introduction

Advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) are techniques used for the degradation of harmful organic pollutants resistant to conventional treatment methods. AOPs depend on in situ generation of highly reactive radical specie such as that breakdown a number of organic compounds without being selective [13] using chemical or light energy. The process employing a semiconductor activated by UV or visible light to degrade aquatic or atmospheric pollutants is called photocatalysis which results in partial or complete mineralization of the organic compounds [4, 5].

Titanium dioxide (TiO2), a metal oxide semiconductor has been found to be one of the most effective photocatalysts due to its high efficiency and stability. TiO2 has a band gap of 3.2?eV that allows UV light to excite the valance electrons and inject these into the conduction band leaving holes in the valance band [6]. The high rate of electron-hole recombination in TiO2, however, limits the efficiency of the photocatalyst which can be arrested, to some extent, by doping with metallic elements such as silver [7]. On the other hand, the antibacterial action of silver, particularly in the colloidal form, is also well known [8].

Metal-doped titanium dioxide has been used for the degradation of many organic pollutants in general [2, 3] and for phenols in particular [911]. Chlorophenols have low taste and odour thresholds and exhibit high toxicity and carcinogenic character [9]. They are very toxic and poorly biodegradable compounds, that are not effectively degraded by direct biological methods [10]. Consequently, their elimination in wastewaters and drinking water is of great interest.

In the present work, TiO2 nanoparticles were synthesized by calcination while metallic doping with silver was achieved using Liquid Impregnation [12]. These nanosized catalysts were characterized by the techniques such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS). Photocatalytic degradation using the nanosized particles was then studied with p-nitrophenol as a model compound followed by of 2,4-dichlorophenol, 2,5-dichlorophenol, and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol.

2. Experimental

2.1. Materials

TiO2 (GPR, BDH Chemicals Ltd. Poole England), AgNO3, p-nitrophenol (purity 99%), 2,4-dichlorphenol, 2,5-dichlorophenol, and 2,4,6- trichlorophenol (GR, Merck, Germany).

2.2. Photocatalyst Preperation

In case of pure TiO2 nanoparticles, TiO2 was calcined at C for 3 hours, to abtain the nanosized crystal structure. Silver-doped TiO2 nanoparticles were prepared by following the method of reference [12] described below.

1?g TiO2 was added to 100?ml dionized water in a 500?ml Pyrex beaker. For silver doping 1% (molar ratio) of AgNO3 was also added to the suspension. The resulting slurry was thoroughly mixed by vigorous stirring and allowed to settle, at room temperature, over night. The liquid so obtained was dried in an oven at C for 12 hours to get rid of any remaining moisture. The solid material resulting from this step was calcined, at C for 3 hours in a furnace. This resulted in fine particles of silver-doped TiO2, herein after referred to as Ag-TiO2.

2.3. Charaterization of TiO2 and Ag-TiO2 Nanoparticles

The phases of the synthesized particles were analyzed by JEOL JDX-II X-ray Diffractometer. Crystallite size of the prepared particles was determined from the broadening of the anatase main peak by the Scherrer equation. The external morphology of the particles was examined using an electron microscope JEOL JSM 6460. EDS analysis was carried out using the Oxford INCA X-sight 200 System.

2.4. The Photocatalysis Process

The schematic diagram of the experimental setup of photocatalysis experiment is shown in Figure 1. 0.004?g of high purity p-nitrophenol was dissolved in 200?ml deionised water in a 250?ml beaker and transferring it to a 1?L analytical flask. The beaker was thoroughly rinsed, twice, and the washings were added to the solution in the 1?L flask. The volume was made up, with deionised water, to 1?L to obtain a stock solution of 4?ppm p-nitrophenol.

Figure 1: Schematic Diagram of Experimental Setup of Photocatalysis.

An aliquot of the solution was taken and its pH (monitored with the HACH Sension 1?pH meter) was adjusted to 7 with drop-wise addition of dilute NaOH (1N) solution. The resulting solution had a slight yellow tinge whose absorbance was measured at 400?nm in a 4?cm path length glass cell in a UV visible spectrophotometer (HACH DR 2400). Deionized water in a glass cell of the same dimensions served as a blank. The absorbance so obtained served as the reference value for determining the proportionate reduction in the concentration () of the phenol, after exposing the solution to UV light under the conditions of (a) no TiO2, (b) with TiO2, and (c) with Ag-TiO2 as described below.

To investigate the photocatalytic degradation, p-nitrophenol solution of 4?ppm was taken in a container. Ag-TiO2 nanoparticles with a dose of 0.05?g/50?ml was added. It was placed under 20?W Blak-Ray UV lamp (with a wavelength peak at 365?nm and intensity of 1.4?mW/cm2) and with continuous stirring. After every experiment the solution was centrifuged on (Sigma 204 instrument) at 4000?rpm for 10 minutes. The degradation of centrifuged solution was measured at 400?nm on UV visible spectrophotometer (HACH DR 2400) and the degree of mineralization was carried out using Analytik jena TOC multi N/C 3100 analyzer.

Similar experiments were performed with 2,4-dichlorphenol, 2,5-dichlorophenol, and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol. Stock solutions of these compounds were prepared by dissolving 0.004 gm of the above three compounds in dionized water and diluting to 1 liter. The cholorphenols were also exposed to UV light under conditions similar to those for p-ntirophenol. Here the baseline for the individual compounds was established by using the standard 4-aminpoantipyrene method [13].

3. Results

3.1. TiO2 Nanoparticle Characterization
3.1.1. X-Ray Diffraction

The crystal phase of laboratory prepared nanoparticles was identified using JEOL JDX-II X-ray diffractometer. XRD patterns are shown in Figure 2. The data indicates that the major phase of all the prepared nanoparticles is anatase. The crystallite size of prepared nanoparticles determined from the broadening of the anatase main peak by Scherrer equation [12] is shown in Table 1. TiO2 is in a range of 27?nm to 42?nm while the crystallite size of Ag-TiO2 is 11.27?nm to 42.52?nm. Our results are in consonance with those reported earlier [7] where Ag-TiO2 nanoparticles dimensions were reported to be between 15?nm and 37?nm, (see [12]).

Table 1: Crystallite properties of undoped and Ag-doped TiO2.
Figure 2: X-ray diffraction pattern (a) TiO2 (b) Ag-TiO2.
3.1.2. EDS

The EDS-spectra of TiO2 (Figure 3) and Ag-TiO2 (Figure 4) was obtained using the Oxford INCA X-sight 200 equipment. In similarity to an earlier work using EDS [7], the presence of three distinct X-ray lines associated with O K, Ag K, and Ti K, is clearly evident. The results indicate that Ti, O, and Ag are the constitutive elements of the nanoparticles prepared by the Liquid Impregnation method and no extraneous elements are present.

Figure 3: EDS pattern of TiO2 Nanoparticles prepared by Calcination.
Figure 4: EDS pattern of Ag-TiO2 Nanoparticles prepared by Liquid Impregnation Method.
3.1.3. SEM

The SEM images of pure titania and Ag-doped titania obtained using (JEOL JSM 6460 Scanning Electron Microscope) are shown in Figures 5 and 6 whereby the porous and sponge-like network of irregularly shaped particles is amply demonstrated. Surface roughness and shaped complexity of the particles is high in case of Ag-TiO2 which results in a high surface area. SEM images were taken from different sites of sample and then compared. The resulting image shows that silver is not uniformly deposited on the surface of titania nanoparticles, as found by other authors [12].

Figure 5: SEM micrograph of TiO2 nanoparticles.
Figure 6: SEM micrograph of Ag-TiO2 nanoparticles.
3.1.4. Surface Area and Pore Size Analysis

Figures 7 and 8 show the nitrogen adsorption isotherms and BJH pore size distribution curves of doped TiO2 and undoped TiO2 samples, respectively, obtained by Surface and Pore Size Analyzer NOVA WIN 2200e. The Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) specific surface areas and pore volumes of doped TiO2 and undoped TiO2 are summarized in Table 1. Results reveal that doping results in positive impact on surface area and pore diameter of the TiO2 nanoparticles.

Figure 7: Nitrogen adsorption curve for doped and undoped TiO2 (a) Undoped TiO2 (b) Ag-doped TiO2.
Figure 8: Pore size distribution curve for doped and undoped TiO2 (a) Undoped TiO2 (b) Ag-doped TiO2.
3.2. Optimization Studies
3.2.1. Photodegradation of p-Nitrophenol

For the optimization of the photocatalytic process, phototcatalytic degradation of p-nitrophenol with pure TiO2 was studied by varying the parameters of light intensity, pH, and irradiation time. The concentration was determined by preparing the calibration curve of p-nirophenol on spectrophotometer.

3.2.2. Effect of UV Lamp Distance

The effect of UV light intensity on the degradation of p-nitrophenol was studied by varying the distance of UV lamp from the target. Figure 9 shows the relationship of UV light intensity in terms of lamp distance from the sample and percent photocatalytic degradation. As expected, the higher light intensity excited the TiO2 particles to generate more electron hole pairs. The holes decompose the p-nitrophenol molecules adsorbed on the surface of TiO2 particles and oxidize them to water resulting in their efficient degradation [14].

Figure 9: Effect of UV lamp distance on photodegradation of p- nitrophenol due to change in distance of UV lamp.
3.2.3. Effect of pH

The degree of photocatlytic degradation of p-nitrophenol was found to be affected by a change in pH. Figure 10 shows that the photocatalytic degradation of p-nitrophenol was high between pH 2 and pH 4, while the degradation efficiency was lower in the alkaline environment above 7 pH. Titania surface will remain positively charged in acidic medium () and negatively charged in alkaline medium (). Titanium dioxide is reported to have higher oxidizing activity at lower pH but excess H+ at very low pH can decrease reaction rate. This observation confirms the finding of other researchers [15].

Figure 10: Represent the effect of change in pH on photocatalytic degradation of p-Nitrophenol.
3.2.4. Degradation versus Irradiation Time

One of the very important parameters that was studied for the photocatalytic degradation of p-nitrophenol was time of degradation. The degradation rate was observed to increase with increase in irradiation time as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11: Photocatalytic degradation of p-Nitrophenol w.r.t irradiation time.

In view of these results, subsequent experiments were caried out at a pH of 4 with UV lamp distance of 5?cm from the target surface of the solution in the china dish.

3.2.5. Comparative Degradation of p-Nitrophenol by Pure TiO2 and Ag-TiO2

Comparitive photocatalytic degradation of p-nitrophenol was also investigated in the presence of UV light. Ag-TiO2 nanoparticles show better results (98% degradation) as compared to pure TiO2 nano particles (83% degradation) in 1 hour as shown in Figure 12. This is due to the positive effect of silver on the photoactivity of TiO2 at degradation of p-nitrophenol that may be explained by its ability to trap electrons, thus, reducing the recombination of light-generated electron-hole pairs at TiO2 surface. These results encouraged the use of Ag-doped TiO2 for the degradation of chlorophenols.

Figure 12: Comparitive photocatalytic degradation of p-nitrophenol with pure and Ag-doped Titania Nanoparticles.
3.3. Photocatalytic Degradation of Cholophenols

When chlorination is done, phenols present in water react with chlorine to form chlorophenols. These chlorophenols are carcinogenic and impart an odour to the water making it unfit for secondary use. Three commonly known chlorophenols were selected which are 2,4-dichlorophenol, 2,5-dichlorophenol, and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol for the photocatalytic degradation using Ag-TiO2 nanoparticles. The concentration was determined by preparing the calibration curves of chlorophenols using the 4-aminoantipyrine method [13].

As depicted in Figure 13, starting with the same initial concentration, the transformation rate of chlorophenols decreases as the number of chlorines on the phenolic ring increases. The addition of chlorine atom has previously been found to reduce the degradation rate of chlorophenols, [16]. In this study, it seems that the increase in the number of chlorine atoms on the phenolic ring makes the chlorophenols less responsive to UV degradation as the photo transformation rate of 2,4-DCP and 2,5-DCP was higher than that of 2,4,6-TCP, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Percent degradation of phenolic compounds in one hour.
Figure 13: Photocatalytic degradation of phenolic compounds using Ag-TiO2 nanoparticle on spectrophotometer.
3.4. Total Organic Carbon (TOC) Analysis

In the experimental work, photocatalytic degradation of the above discussed phenolic compounds was primarily monitored using absorption spectroscopy. This, however, does not indicate the degree of mineralization of the organic compounds. Following an earlier study [17], the oxidative mineralization was therefore examined by measuring the Total Organic Carbon (TOC) in the solution. The TOC measurements were made using Analytik jena TOC multi N/C 3100 analyzer by direct injection of the aqueous solution after centrifugation.

As discussed above in photocatalytic degradation, the chlorophenols are converted into inorganic products like CO2, H2O and [18]. Figure 14 gives the results of the TOC experiment indicating that 2,4-DCP was completely mineralized, while 2,5-DCP was mineralized up to 95 percent and 2,4,6-TCP upto 86 percent within the period of 120 minutes. The mineralization efficiency of the above said compounds was calculated by the following formula:

Figure 14: Percent minerlization of phenolic compound based on TOC analysis.
3.5. The Reaction Kinetics

The photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants generally follows the Langmuir-Hinshelwood mechanism [16], where is the true rate constant which depends upon mass of catalyst, the flux of efficient photons, and the coverage in oxygen. is the adsorption constant, is the time, and is the concentration of the organic pollutant. For the low initial concentrations of pollutants, the term , in the denominator, can be neglected and the photocatalytic oxidation rate approaches first order kinetics described by where , the apparent rate constant, is also known as the pseudo-first order rate constant. The integral form of the rate equation is where is the initial concentration.

Values of for experiments described in this study are given in Table 3 values in Table 3, compare well with the vales reported in a previous study [7], which used pure and 1 to 2 mmol Ag-TiO2 for degradation of p-nitrophenol as compared to 1% molar ratio in our case.

Table 3: Reaction Constants of photocatalytic process with TiO2 and Ag-TiO2 for phenolic compounds.

4. Conclusion

Pure TiO2 (42.52–26.72?nm), and silver-doped TiO2 (42.52–11.27?nm) nanoparticles were synthesized through calcination and Liquid Impregnation method. Ag-TiO2 exhibited good potential for the photocatalytic degradation of phenolic compounds in acidic environment (pH 4). More than 95% photocatalytic degradation of phenolic compounds could be achieved in 1 hour using Ag-TiO2 was achieved during 1 hour. Photocatalytic mineralization of 2,4-DCP (100%), 2,5-DCP (95%), and 2,4,6-TCP (86%) was achieved using Ag-TiO2, after a period of 2 hours.

Langmuir-Hinshelwood kinetic model provided a good fit to the photocatalytic degradation of phenolic compounds, used in this study.


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