Enhancement of sonocatalytic degradation of organic dye by using titanium dioxide (TiO2)/activated carbon (AC) derived from oil palm empty fruit bunch

  • Yean Ling PangEmail author
  • Steven Lim
  • Raymond Kuok Liang Lee
Water Environmental Pollution and State of the Art Treatment Technologies


A novel titanium dioxide/activated carbon (TiO2/AC) composite where AC derived from oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) was synthesised by using sol–gel method. All the samples were characterised by using X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX), Fourier transformed infrared (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and surface analyser. SEM analysis showed that TiO2 particles were successfully embedded and well distributed on the AC surface. The elemental composition analysis found that the TiO2/AC composite contained titanium (Ti), oxygen (O) and carbon (C) atoms. Meanwhile, the appearance of new band at about 960 cm−1 which assigned to the Ti–O stretching was observed in the FTIR spectra when the AC was incorporated into TiO2. TGA analysis showed that the weight loss of 32 wt.% from 150 to 550 °C was due to the decomposition of amorphous carbon layers and loss of hydroxyl groups on TiO2. It was found that the TiO2/AC composite had better performance in the sonocatalytic degradation of malachite green as compared to the individual AC and TiO2 because the TiO2/AC composite had dual functionality and huge number of active sites which could promote the mass transfer of dye molecules towards catalyst surface. By using 1.5 g/L of TiO2/AC composite which calcined at 700 °C on 100 mL of 200 mg/L of malachite green at solution pH of 7, a degradation efficiency of 87.11% had been achieved after 30 min of ultrasonic irradiation. A lower chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal (81.75%) was observed because the structured dye molecules underwent mineralisation process during the sonocatalytic degradation to generate intermediate compounds. The TiO2/AC composite was able to be recycled and still achieved a high degradation efficiency of 76.78% after second catalytic cycle as compared to the fresh TiO2/AC composite with degradation efficiency of 87.11%. In conclusion, the TiO2/AC composite had high reusability and promising for practical applications in textile industry.


Oil palm empty fruit bunch TiO2/AC composite Characteristics Sonocatalytic degradation Malachite green 



The authors wish to acknowledge the funding support of this work under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS/1/2018/TK10/UTAR/02/2) by the Ministry of Education (MOE) Malaysia and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Research Fund (UTARRF/2018-C1/P01) through the Centre for Environment and Green Technology (CEGT) and Centre for Photonics and Advanced Materials Research (CPARM).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and ScienceUniversiti Tunku Abdul RahmanKajangMalaysia

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