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This study evaluated strategies targeting macro- and micro-organic contaminant mitigation using low-energy titanium dioxide photocatalysis. Energy inputs of 1, 2, and 5 kWh m−3 resulted in incomplete oxidation of macro-organic natural organic matter, signified by greater reductions of UV254 and specific ultraviolet UV absorbance (SUVA) in comparison to dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The rate of UV254 removal was 3 orders of magnitude greater than the rate of DOC degradation. Incomplete oxidation improved operation of downstream filtration processes. Photocatalysis at 2 kWh m−3 increased the bed life of downstream granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration by 340% relative to direct filtration pretreatment. Likewise, photocatalysis operated ahead of microfiltration decreased fouling, resulting in longer filter run times. Using 2 kWh m−3 photocatalysis increased filter run time by 36 times in comparison to direct filtration. Furthermore, levels of DOC and UV254 in the membrane permeate improved (with no change in removal across the membrane) using low-energy photocatalysis pretreatments. While high-energy UV inputs provided high levels of removal of the estrogenic micro-organics estrone (E1), 17β-estradiol (E2), estriol (E3), and 17α-ethynlestradiol (EE2), low-energy photocatalysis did not enhance removal of estrogens beyond levels achieved by photolysis alone. In the cases of E1 and E3, the addition of TiO2 as a photocatalyst reduced degradation rates of estrogens compared to UV photolysis. Overall, process electrical energy per order magnitude reductions (EEOs) greatly improved using photocatalysis, versus photolysis, for the macro-organics DOC, UV254, and SUVA; however, energy required for removal of estrogens was similar between photolysis and photocatalysis.


Accepted version. Chemosphere, Vol. 217 (February 2019): 111-121. DOI. © 2019 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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