Inactivation of an urban wastewater indigenous Escherichia coli strain by cerium doped zinc oxide photocatalysis†
Heterogeneous photocatalysis (HPC) is a subset of Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs) with potential future applications in water disinfection. Herein, a zinc oxide photocatalyst was doped with cerium at various atomic ratios ranging from 0 to 0.1 Ce : Zn. Keeping in mind that the application of HPC is often limited by its cost of use, a simple and easy to upscale method, that is the hydroxide induced hydrolysis of zinc nitrate in the presence of Ce3+ followed by calcination at 300 °C, was used to synthesise the catalysts. The catalysts have been characterized by different techniques such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), UV-vis diffuse reflectance (UV-vis DRS) and Raman spectroscopy. XRD results showed that Ce3+ ions were successfully incorporated into the ZnO lattice. UV-vis DRS spectra evidenced that Ce–ZnO samples present band-gap values of about 2.97 eV, lower than those of undoped ZnO (3.21 eV). These various photocatalysts, at 0.1 g L−1 in saline 0.85%, were used to inactivate Escherichia coli previously isolated from an urban wastewater treatment plant. Higher atomic ratios of Ce in the ZnO lattice, as confirmed by XRD and Raman spectroscopy, showed significant improvements to the inactivation rate; the resulting recommended optimum cerium loading of 0.04 : 1 Ce : Zn gave multiple orders of magnitude higher rate of inactivation after 60 min of treatment when compared to un-doped ZnO. This optimum loading of cerium was faster than the de facto literature standard TiO2-P25 tested under identical conditions.