The Technology Horizon for Photocatalytic Water Treatment: Sunrise or Sunset?

Stephanie K. Loeb, Pedro J.J. Alvarez, Jonathon A. Brame, Ezra L. Cates, Wonyong Choi, John Crittenden, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, Qilin Li, Gianluca Li-Puma, Xie Quan, David L. Sedlak, T. David Waite, Paul Westerhoff, Jae Hong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

420 Scopus citations


Advanced oxidation processes via semiconductor photocatalysis for water treatment have been the subject of extensive research over the past three decades, producing many scientific reports focused on elucidating mechanisms and enhancing kinetics for the treatment of contaminants in water. Many of these reports imply that the ultimate goal of the research is to apply photocatalysis in municipal water treatment operations. However, this ignores immense technology transfer problems, perpetuating a widening gap between academic advocation and industrial application. In this Feature, we undertake a critical examination of the trajectory of photocatalytic water treatment research, assessing the viability of proposed applications and identifying those with the most promising future. Several strategies are proposed for scientists and engineers who aim to support research efforts to bring industrially relevant photocatalytic water treatment processes to fruition. Although the reassessed potential may not live up to initial academic hype, an unfavorable assessment in some areas does not preclude the transfer of photocatalysis for water treatment to other niche applications as the technology retains substantive and unique benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2937-2947
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 19 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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