Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.C.H.

Degree Name

MS in Chemical Engineering (M.S.C.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Venkat R. Bhethanabotla, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John N. Kuhn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott W. Campbell, Ph.D.

Abstract

In recent years, employing advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) as a means of wastewater remediation has emerged as a promising route towards maintaining a sustainable global water management program. The heterogeneous photocatalytic oxidation process has been of particular interest due to the prospective of utilizing solar radiation as the driving force behind the degradation of pollutants. Of the photocatalyst studied to date, TiO2 remains the most attractive material for environmental applications due to its affordability, stability, biocompatibility and high quantum yield. A key draw back however is roughly only 5% of solar radiation incident on earth can provide the energy required (3.0-3.2 eV) to generate the electron-hole pairs necessary for photo-oxidation. As a means to improve the process under solar irradiance, optical properties such as surface plasmon resonance of metallic nanoparticles and upconversion luminescence of rare earth ions have been exploited for improved light harvesting as well as the generation of more usable UV light from lower energy photons. In order to explore these phenomena and their role in the enhancement of this AOP, the photocatalytic degradation of organic dyes was studied under various conditions employing Degussa P25 TiO2 as the photocatalyst. Ag nanocubes, Ag-Pd core-shell nanoparticles and YAG:Yb+3,Er+3 served as the dopants for the various studies which resulted in enhanced degradation rates, insight into the applicability of utilizing Yb+3 as sensitizing ion under solar radiation and a novel core-shell nanoparticle synthesis.

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