Photoelectrocatalytic Surfactant Pollutant Degradation and Simultaneous Green Hydrogen Generation

Katherine Rebecca Davies, Michael G. Allan, Sanjay Nagarajan, Rachel Townsend, Vijayshankar Asokan, Trystan Watson, A. Ruth Godfrey, M. Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Moritz F. Kuehnel, Sudhagar Pitchaimuthu

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For the first time, we demonstrate a photoelectrocatalysis technique for simultaneous surfactant pollutant degradation and green hydrogen generation using mesoporous WO3/BiVO4 photoanode under simulated sunlight irradiation. The materials properties such as morphology, crystallite structure, chemical environment, optical absorbance, and bandgap energy of the WO3/BiVO4 films are examined and discussed. We have tested the anionic type (sodium 2-naphthalenesulfonate (S2NS)) and cationic type surfactants (benzyl alkyl dimethylammonium compounds (BAC-C12)) as model pollutants. A complete removal of S2NS and BAC-C12 surfactants at 60 and 90 min, respectively, by applying 1.75 V applied potential vs RHE to the circuit, under 1 sun was achieved. An interesting competitive phenomenon for photohole utilization was observed between surfactants and adsorbed water. This led to the formation of H2O2 from water alongside surfactant degradation (anode) and hydrogen evolution (cathode). No byproducts were observed after the direct photohole mediated degradation of surfactants, implying its advantage over other AOPs and biological processes. In the cathode compartment, 82.51 μmol/cm2 and 71.81 μmol/cm2 of hydrogen gas were generated during the BAC-C12 and S2NS surfactant degradation process, respectively, at 1.75 V RHE applied potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19084-19094
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number45
Early online date2 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023


  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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