The control of natural organic matter (NOM) in drinking water treatment plants is required in order to control (i) the formation of potentially harmful disinfection byproducts (DBPs), (ii) the regrowth of bacteria and (iii) pipe corrosion in the distribution system. Photocatalysis is a promising advanced oxidation technology due to its ability to mineralise chlorinated byproduct precursors such as humic acids (HAs) to carbon dioxide and water. In this study, the efficiency of HAs and NOM removal in terms of UV absorbance at 254 nm (UV254) was tested by means of a new photocatalytic reactor made of stacked polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) rings coated by TiO2 nanofilm. Three different sets of rings were coated with TiO2 gel one, two and three times respectively to optimise the coating thickness according to UV254 removal efficiency. The titania sol was immobilised on the substrate by a low temperature procedure and after 8 months the reactors were reactivated by means of UV radiation before the experiments. The photocatalytic removal efficiency of humic acid in terms of UV254 was significantly higher after 1 hour for the reactor employed with high thickness TiO2 nanofilm (around 20%) compared to middle and low thickness reactors (6 and 1.4%, respectively). However, during the same reaction time only 10% of UV254 was removed with high thickness TiO2 nanofilm using raw surface water, probably owing to ionic species naturally occurring in the raw water sample. Finally, the activation of the TiO2 nanofilm may be effectively accomplished by means of UV radiation where calcination cannot be applied (e.g. thermally sensitive substrates).

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