Scaling up photoelectrocatalytic reactors: A TiO2 nanotube-coated disc compound reactor effectively degrades acetaminophen

Renato Montenegro-Ayo, Juan Carlos Morales-Gomero, Hugo Alarcon, Salvador Cotillas, Paul Westerhoff, Sergi Garcia-Segura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Multiple discs coated with hierarchically-organized TiO2 anatase nanotubes served as photoelectrodes in a novel annular photoelectrocatalytic reactor. Electrochemical characterization showed light irradiation enhanced the current response due to photogeneration of charge carriers. The pharmaceutical acetaminophen was used as a representative water micropollutant. The photoelectrocatalysis pseudo-first-order rate constant for acetaminophen was seven orders of magnitude greater than electrocatalytic treatment. Compared against photocatalysis alone, our photoelectrocatalytic reactor at <8 V reduced by two fold, the electric energy per order (EEO; kWh m-3 order-1 for 90% pollutant degradation). Applying a cell potential higher than 8 V detrimentally increased EEO. Acetaminophen was degraded across a range of initial concentrations, but absorbance at higher concentration diminished photon transport, resulting in higher EEO. Extended photoelectrocatalytic reactor operation degraded acetaminophen, which was accompanied by 53% mineralization based upon total organic carbon measurements. This proof of concept for our photoelectrocatalytic reactor demonstrated a strategy to increase photo-active surface area in annular reactors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2522
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2019


  • Electrochemical advanced oxidation processes
  • Hydroxyl radical
  • Persistent organic pollutant
  • Titanium dioxide nanotubes
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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