Photocatalytic reduction and scavenging of Hg(II) over templated-dewetted Au on TiO2 nanotubes
Gold-decorated TiO2 nanotubes were used for the photocatalytic abatement of Hg(II) in aqueous solutions. The presence of dewetted Au nanoparticles induces a strong enhancement of photocatalytic reduction and scavenging performances, with respect to naked TiO2. In the presence of chlorides, a massive formation of Hg2Cl2 nanowires, produced from Au nanoparticles, was observed using highly Au loaded photocatalysts to treat a 10 ppm Hg(II) solution. EDS and XPS confirmed the nature of the photo-produced nanowires. In the absence of chlorides and/or at lower Hg(II) starting concentrations, the scavenging of mercury proceeds through the formation of Hg–Au amalgams. Solar light driven Hg(II) abatements up to 90% were observed after 24 h. ICP-MS analysis revealed that the removed Hg(II) is accumulated on the photocatalyst surface. Regeneration of Hg-loaded exhaust photocatalysts was easily performed by anodic stripping of Hg(0) and Hg(I) to Hg(II). After four catalytic-regeneration cycles, only a 10% decrease of activity was observed.