Solar detoxification of fuel-contaminated groundwater using fixed-bed photocatalysts

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A field test of a solar photocatalytic process for detoxification of water was conducted at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, where benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) compounds were found in the fuel-contaminated groundwater. Platinized titanium dioxide supported on silica gel is packed in tubular photoreactors and used for single-pass operations. Catalyst fouling, destruction inhibition, and water pretreatment are investigated in addition to BTEX destruction. Ionic species were found to be primarily responsible for photocatalyst fouling and destruction inhibition. A simple pretreatment unit was developed for removing turbidity, adding oxidant, and ionic species. By using pretreatment, the reactor system operated efficiently, and no loss in catalyst photoactivity was found during the month-long test. On a rainy day, BTEX compounds of a total influent concentration of more than 2 mg/L were destroyed within 6.5 minutes of empty-bed contact time. Test results with various flow rates, reactor diameters, influent concentrations, solar irradiances, and weather conditions confirm the application potential of the process.

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Water Environment Research