Photocatalytic activity of supported TiO2 nanocrystals
Totito, Thandiwe Crystal
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In recent times, the occurrence and presence of complex recalcitrant toxic contaminants in water and wastewater is increasing and consequently contributes to the non-availability of clean and safe drinking water. Water treatment is complex, time demanding and energy intensive due to the physico-chemical structural complexity and diversity of the pollutants. Non-availability of good drinking water has negatively affected human health and the ecosystem. Over the years, numerous conventional treatment techniques were used to degrade and remove these pollutants, but investigations indicated that some of the pollutants are not susceptible to conventional treatment. Advanced oxidation technology, among which heterogeneous photocatalysis (involving the use of a semiconductor) has emerged as one of the more promising techniques to remediate contaminated water. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) semiconductor photocatalysis is considered to be a good option due to its cost effectiveness, chemical and thermal stability, and inertness in the area of wastewater reclamation and re-use. However the post separation of the titania particles poses a threat to the wastewater remediation. Hence there is a need to develop a supported high surface area photocatalyst that will resolve the post separation challenge. This present study aimed to prepare high surface area TiO2 anatase nanocrystals supported on a stainless steel mesh. These new composite materials were used to remove methylene blue (MB) from aqueous solutions. The supporting procedure involved the thermal decomposition of a sol gel solution coated upon stainless steel mesh. The nanocrystalline anatase phase was formed by thermal decomposition on a stainless steel mesh coated with 8 % PAN/DMF/TiO2 sol gel formation calcined at varying temperatures of 300 °C, 400 °C, 500 °C and 600 °C. The heating rate of 50 °C/min and independent holding time of 1 h, 2 h, 3 h and 4 h were applied to find the optimum supporting conditions. The synthesised TiO2 nanocomposites materials were characterised using the following analytical techniques: XRD, HRSEM, EDS, HRTEM, SAED, FTIR and UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy materials were characterised, and the results indicate that synthesised TiO2 nanocrystals were in the anatase form, polycrystalline in nature, and contained additional carbon-carbon bonds from the polymer used during preparation with TiO2 particle sizes range from 13.6 nm to 2285 nm.