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Nanomaterials (Basel). 2019 Apr 3;9(4). pii: E534. doi: 10.3390/nano9040534.

Control of Membrane Fouling in Organics Filtration Using Ce-Doped Zirconia and Visible Light.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, University of Torino, Via P.Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy. feabfc@gmail.com.
2
Department of Chemistry, University of Torino, Via P.Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy. chiara.gionco@unito.it.
3
Department of Chemistry, University of Torino, Via P.Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy. mariacristina.paganini@unito.it.
4
NIS (Nanostructured Interfaces and surfaces), University of Torino, Via P.Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy. mariacristina.paganini@unito.it.
5
Department of Chemistry, University of Torino, Via P.Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy. paola.calza@unito.it.
6
Department of Chemistry, University of Torino, Via P.Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy. giuliana.magnacca@unito.it.
7
NIS (Nanostructured Interfaces and surfaces), University of Torino, Via P.Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy. giuliana.magnacca@unito.it.

Abstract

Membrane fouling has been a major issue in the development of more efficient water treatment processes. Specifically in surface waters filtration, organic matter, such as humic-like substances, can cause irreversible fouling. Therefore, this study evaluates the activity of a photocatalytic layer composed of Ce-doped zirconia nanoparticles in improving the fouling resistance during filtration of an aqueous solution of humic acid (HA). These nanoparticles were prepared by hydrothermal and sol-gel processes and then characterized. Before the filtration experiments, the photodegradation of HA catalyzed by Ce-doped zirconia nanoparticles in dispersion was studied. It was observed that the sol-gel prepared Ce-ZrO₂ exhibited higher HA removal in practically neutral pH, achieving 93% efficiency in 180 min of adsorption in the dark followed by 180 min under visible-light irradiation using light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Changes in spectral properties and in total organic carbon confirmed HA degradation and contributed to the proposal of a mechanism for HA photodegradation. Finally, in HA filtration tests, Ce-ZrO₂ photocatalytic membranes were able to recover the flux in a fouled membrane using visible-light by degrading HA. The present findings point to the further development of anti-fouling membranes, in which solar light can be used to degrade fouling compounds and possibly contaminants of emerging concern, which will have important environmental implications.

KEYWORDS:

LED; cerium; fouling; humic acid; membrane filtration; photocatalysts; visible light; zirconium dioxide

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