Efficient photocatalysis of tetracycline hydrochloride (TC-HCl) from pharmaceutical wastewater using AgCl/ZnO/g-C3N4 composite under visible light: Process and mechanisms

Linzhang Yang , Chenman Ding , Qiurong Zhu , Bei Yang , Evangelos Petropoulos , Lihong Xue , Yanfang Feng , Shiying He


Received November 13, 2021,Revised , Accepted February 17, 2022, Available online March 02, 2022

Volume 35,2023,Pages 249-262

AgCl/ZnO/g-C3N4, a visible light activated ternary composite catalyst, was prepared by combining calcination, hydrothermal reaction and in-situ deposition processes to treat/photocatalyse tetracycline hydrochloride (TC-HCl) from pharmaceutical wastewater under visible light. The morphological, structural, electrical, and optical features of the novel photocatalyst were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), UV-visible light absorption spectrum (UV–Vis DRS), X-ray diffractometer (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and transient photocurrent techniques. All analyses confirmed that the formation of heterojunctions between AgCl/ZnO and g-C3N4 significantly increase electron-hole transfer and separation compared to pure ZnO and g-C3N4. Thus, AgCl/ZnO/g-C3N4 could exhibit superior photocatalytic activity during TC-HCl assays (over 90% removal) under visible light irradiation. The composite could maintain its photocatalytic stability even after four consecutive reaction cycles. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and superoxide radical (·O2) contributed more than holes (h+) and hydroxyl radicals (·OH) to the degradation process as showed by trapping experiments. Liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer (LC-MS) was used for the representation of the TC-HCl potential degradation pathway. The applicability and the treatment potential of AgCl/ZnO/g-C3N4 against actual pharmaceutical wastewater showed that the composite can achieve removal efficiencies of 81.7%, 71.4% and 69.0% for TC-HCl, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total organic carbon (TOC) respectively. AgCl/ZnO/g-C3N4 can be a prospective key photocatalyst in the field of degradation of persistent, hardly-degradable pollutants, from industrial wastewater and not only.

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