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Synthesis of Cr2O3/C3N4 composite for enhancement of visible light photocatalysis and anaerobic digestion of wastewater sludge

Anjum, Muzammil, Kumar, Rajeev, Barakat, M.A.
Journal of environmental management 2018 v.212 pp. 65-76
2-chlorophenol, X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, anaerobic digestion, biogas, carbon nitride, energy-dispersive X-ray analysis, melamine, methane, mineralization, organic matter, pH, particle size, photocatalysis, photocatalysts, pollutants, scanning electron microscopy, sludge, solubilization, temperature, toxicity, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, wastewater
Visible light photocatalysts of Cr2O3/C3N4 composites (with different melamine concentrations) were prepared by high temperature calcination method. The composites samples were characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy SEM, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), UV–visible spectroscopy and particle size analysis, which clearly indicated the coexistence of both Cr2O3 and C3N4 in the composites. The Cr2O3/C3N4 catalysts were tested for photocatalytic degradation of 2-chlorophenol in wastewater and solubilization of sludge in anaerobic digestion process to enhance biomethane production. The co-catalytic performance of Cr2O3, with 6% of melamine (precursor of C3N4), improved the photocatalytic degradation of 2-chlorophenol (k = 0.0156 min−1) under visible light, where up to 94% removal was achieved at optimum pH 5.0, pollutant concentration of 60 mg/L, and time duration of 180 min. On another hand, application of Cr2O3/C3N4 for photocatalytic pretreatment of sludge released the soluble substances in solution in which sCOD was increased from 431 mg/L to 3666 mg/L after 6 h and VS content decrease by only 9.1%, which indicated that the short time pretreatment could avoid the further mineralization of organic to complete degradation. Thereafter, anaerobic digestion of solubilized sludge was achieved after 30 days with production of 634 ml kg−1VS of methane and 46% of organic matter removal efficiency (OMRE), compared with 472 ml kg−1VS and 402 ml kg−1VS of methane, 35 and 31% of OMRE respectively in photolytic and raw sludge (control) reactors. These results can provide a useful base and reference for the multi applications of visible light Cr2O3/C3N4 photocatalyst in enhancement of degradation of toxic pollutant in wastewater and sludge stabilization with bioenergy production in practice.