Photocatalytic Degradation Of Pharmaceuticals Carbamazepine, Diclofenac, And Sulfamethoxazole By Semiconductor And Carbon Materials: A Review
The presence of pharmaceutical compounds in the environment is a reality that calls for more efficient water treatment technologies. Photocatalysis is a powerful technology available but the high energy costs associated with the use of UV irradiation hinder its large scale implementation. More sustainable and cheaper photocatalytic processes can be achieved by improving the sunlight harvesting and the synthesis of semiconductor/carbon composites has proved to be a promising strategy. Carbamazepine, diclofenac, and sulfamethoxazole were selected as target pharmaceuticals due to their recalcitrant behavior during conventional wastewater treatment and persistence in the environment, as properly reviewed. The literature data on the photocatalytic removal of carbamazepine, diclofenac, and sulfamethoxazole by semiconductor/carbon materials was critically revised to highlight the role of the carbon in the enhanced semiconductor performance under solar irradiation. Generally it was demonstrated that carbon materials induce red-shift absorption and they contribute to more effective charge separation, thus improving the composite photoactivity. Carbon was added as a dopant (C-doping) or as support or doping materials (i.e., nanoporous carbons, carbon nanotubes (CNTs), graphene, and derived materials, carbon quantum dots (CQDs), and biochars) and in the large majority of the cases, TiO2 was the semiconductor tested. The specific role of carbon materials is dependent on their properties but even the more amorphous forms, like nanoporous carbons or biochars, allow to prepare composites with improved properties compared to the bare semiconductor. The self-photocatalytic activity of the carbon materials was also reported and should be further explored. The removal and mineralization rates, as well as degradation pathways and toxicity of the treated solutions were also critically analyzed.