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Photolysis and photooxidation of typical gaseous VOCs by UV Irradiation: Removal performance and mechanisms


Photodegradation by ultraviolet irradiation (UV) is increasingly applied in volatile organic compound (VOC) and odor gas treatments. In this study, 27 typical VOCs, including 11 hydrocarbons and 16 hydrocarbon derivatives, at 150–200 ppm in air and nitrogen gas were treated by a laboratory-scale UV reactor with 185/254 nm irradiation to systematically investigate their removal and conversion by UV irradiation. For the tested 27 VOCs, the VOC removal efficiencies in air were within the range of 13%–97% (with an average of 80%) at a retention time of 53 s, which showed a moderate positive correlation with the molecular weight of the VOCs (R = 0.53). The respective contributions of photolysis and photooxidation to VOC removal were identified for each VOC. According to the CO2 results, the mineralization rate of the tested VOCs was within the range of 9%–90%, with an average of 41% and were negatively correlated to the molecular weight (R = −0.63). Many of the tested VOCs exhibited high concentration particulate matters in the off-gases with a 3–283 mg/m3 PM10 range and a 2–40 mg/m3 PM2.5 range. The carbon balance of each VOC during UVirradiation was analyzed based on the VOC, CO2 and PM10 concentrations. Certain organic intermediates and 23–218 ppm ozone were also identified in the off-gases. Although the UV technique exhibited a high VOC removal efficiency, its drawbacks, specifically low mineralization, particulate matters production, and ozone emission, must be considered prior to its application in VOC gas treatments.

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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.51378286) and the Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control (No. 2011ZX07301-003). We thank LetPub ( for providing linguistic assistance during the preparation of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jinying Xi.

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Kang, IS., Xi, J. & Hu, HY. Photolysis and photooxidation of typical gaseous VOCs by UV Irradiation: Removal performance and mechanisms. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng. 12, 8 (2018).

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  • VOCs
  • UV photodegradation
  • Particulate matters
  • Ozone