The photocatalytic disinfection efficiency has been investigated for two immobilized TiO2 catalytic systems (wall reactor and fixed-bed reactor) in a solar pilot plant. Their performances have been compared with the use of a slurry reactor and the solar disinfection without catalyst. The use of photocatalytic TiO2 wall reactors does no show clear benefits over the solar disinfection process in the absence of catalyst. The reason is that the efficiency of the solar disinfection is so high that the presence of titania in the reactor wall reduces the global efficiency due to the competition for the absorption of photons. As expected, the maximum efficiency was shown by the slurry TiO2 reactor, due to the optimum contact between bacteria and catalyst. However, it is noticeable that the use of the fixed-bed reactor leads to inactivation rate quite close to that of the slurry, requiring comparable accumulated solar energy of about 6 kJ L−1 to achieve a 6-log decrease in the concentration of viable bacteria and allowing a total disinfection of the water (below the detection limit of 1 CFU mL−1). Not only the high titania surface area of this configuration is responsible for the bacteria inactivation but the important contribution of the mechanical stress has to be considered. The main advantage of the fixed-bed TiO2 catalyst is the outstanding stability, without deactivation effects after ten reaction cycles, being readily applicable for continuous water treatment systems.

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