Detoxification of water by semiconductor photocatalysis

Soo-Keun Lee, Andrew Mills

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54 Citations (Scopus)
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An overview of the use of semiconductor photocatalysis for water purification is given. The basic principles of semiconductor photocatalysis are described along with the current understanding of the underlying reaction mechanism(s) and how it fits in with the major features of the observed Langmuir-Hinshelwood-type kinetics of pollutant destruction. These features are illustrated based on literature on the destruction of aqueous solutions of 4-chlorophenol as a pollutant, using titanium dioxide as the photocatalyst. The range of organic and inorganic pollutants that can be destroyed by semiconductor photocatalysis are reported and discussed. The basic considerations that need to be made when designing a reactor for semiconductor photocatalysis are considered. These include: the nature of the reactor glass, the type of illumination source, and the nature and type of semiconductor photocatalyst. The key basic photoreactor designs are reported and discussed, including external illumination, annular, and circular photoreactors. Actual designs that have been used for fixed and thin falling film semiconductor photocatalyst reactors are illustrated and their different features discussed. Basic non-concentrating and concentrating solar photoreactors for semiconductor photocatalysis are also reported. The design features of the major commercial photocatalytic reactor systems for water purification are reported and illustrated. Several case studies involving commercial photocatalytic reactors for water purification are reported. An attempt is made briefly to compare the efficacy of semiconductor photocatalysis for water purification with that of other, more popular and prevalent water purification processes. The future of semiconductor photocatalysis as a method of purifying water is considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-187
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2004


  • semiconductor photocatalysis
  • water purification
  • photoreactor design
  • commercial systems


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