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Comparison and mechanism of photocatalytic activities of N-ZnO and N-ZrO2 for the degradation of rhodamine 6G

Abstract

N-doped ZnO (N-ZnO) and N-doped ZrO2 (N-ZrO2) are synthesized by novel, simple thermal decomposition methods. The catalysts are evaluated for the degradation of rhodamine 6G (R6G) under visible and UV light. N-ZnO exhibits higher dye degradation under both visible and UV light compared to N-ZrO2 due to possessing higher specific surface area, lower crystalline size, and lower band gap. However, it is less reusable than N-ZrO2 and its photocatalytic activity is also deteriorated at low pH. At the same intensity of 3.5 W/m2, UVC light is shown to be a better UV source for N-ZnO, while UVA light is more suitable for N-ZrO2. At pH 7 with initial dye concentration of 10 mg/L, catalyst concentration of 1 g/L, and UVC light, 94.3 % of R6G is degraded by N-ZnO within 2 h. Using UVA light under identical experimental conditions, 93.5 % degradation of R6G is obtained by N-ZrO2. Moreover, the type of light source is found to determine the reactive species produced in the R6G degradation by N-ZnO and N-ZrO2. Less oxidative reactive species such as superoxide radical and singlet oxygen play a major role in the degradation of R6G under visible light. On the contrary, highly oxidative hydroxyl radicals are predominant under UVC light. Based on the kinetic study, the adsorption of R6G on the catalyst surface is found to be the controlling step.

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Acknowledgments

The first author would like to thank Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology for financial support through EFS-Ph.D. scholarship.

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Correspondence to Sandhya Babel.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Sudrajat, H., Babel, S. Comparison and mechanism of photocatalytic activities of N-ZnO and N-ZrO2 for the degradation of rhodamine 6G. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 10177–10188 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-6191-6

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Keywords

  • Reactive radical
  • Rhodamine 6G
  • Photocatalytic degradation
  • Nitrogen doping
  • Visible light active
  • UV irradiation