Comparison of H2O2/UV and Heterogeneous Photocatalytic Processes for the Degradation of Dichloroacetic Acid In Water

A comparative study between two advanced oxidation technologies for pollutant degradation has been made. With the use of dichloroacetic acid (DCA) as the model pollutant, the reactions with hydrogen peroxide and UV radiation (H2O2/UV, 253.7 nm) and photocatalysis with titanium dioxide (TiO2/UV, 300−400 nm) are analyzed. Three criteria have been selected to compare the performances of both processes: (i) the percentage conversion of DCA and TOC (total organic carbon) at a fixed reaction time; (ii) the quantum efficiency, employing the true radiation absorption rates for both activated species (H2O2 and TiO2); (iii) the specific energy consumption to degrade 50% of the initial TOC. The optimal molar concentration ratio of H2O2/DCA and the optimal catalyst concentration have been employed in the experiments. The results indicate that, under the optimal operating conditions, the H2O2/UV process exhibits, by a large difference, the best performance taking into account the above-mentioned criteria. Nevertheless, both systems show similar values of specific energy consumption when a thinner reactor is employed. These results cannot be safely extrapolated to other contexts if (i) other compounds of different structure are degraded and (ii) a different catalyst is used. Moreover, they were obtained under optimized conditions, and typical, real-life situations may render quite different results due to the robustness of the titanium dioxide operation. They should serve as an indication that, under the studied conditions, a much-improved catalyst performance must be achieved to parallel, with a heterogeneous process, a yield similar to the one obtained with the homogeneous system.