Removal of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) from real membrane bioreactor (MBR) effluents by photocatalytic degradation using composite Ag2O/P-25 photocatalyst

Khum Gurung, Mohamed Chaker Ncibi, Senthil K. Thangaraj, Janne Jänis, Mahdi Seyedsalehi, Mika Sillanpää

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) are emerging pollutants causing serious challenges to wastewater treatment plants due to poor biodegradability. In this study, the enhanced removal of highly recalcitrant and commonly monitored PhACs, carbamazepine (CBZ) and diclofenac (DCF) by heterogeneous photocatalysis was investigated using 5% Ag2O/P-25 photocatalyst. The photocatalyst was characterized by scanning electron microscope (SEM-EDX), Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET), Fourier transfer infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and UV–vis diffuse reflectance spectra (UV-DRS). The effects of catalyst dose, initial pollutants concentration, and mineralization during the photocatalytic degradation of PhACs were investigated. The matrix effect was assessed in deionized water (DW) and real membrane bioreactor effluent (RME). Optimal CBZ and DCF removals of 89.10% and 93.5%, respectively for 180 min of UV irradiation were achieved at catalyst dosage of 0.4 g L−1 in DW matrix. However, the optimal catalyst dosages for CBZ and DCF in RME matrix were increased by factor 2 and 1.5, respectively, to achieve the same degree of removal. Declining trends of removal rate were observed when initial concentrations of both the PhACs were increased under optimal catalyst dosages, and kinetics seem to fit the Langmuir-Hinshelwood model. Photo-induced holes and [rad]OH were the dominant oxidation species involved in the photocatalytic degradation of the PhACs. A plausible reusability of 5% Ag2O/P-25 photocatalyst was observed for both the PhACs. Moreover, various aromatic/aliphatic intermediates generated during the photodegradation CBZ were identified using fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometry, and a possible multi-step degradation pathway was proposed. Overall, the removal of PhACs using 5% Ag2O/P-25 photocatalyst showed promising results in real wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-328
Number of pages12
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • AgO/P-25 photocatalysts
  • Matrix effect
  • PhACs
  • Photocatalytic degradation
  • Transformation products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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