An improved method treating surfactant wastewater by the addition of semiconductor material such as nano-sized TiO2 or ZnO to activated carbon (AC) with microwave (MW) irradiation was proposed so as to assist efficient degradation of organic pollutants. A series of degradation experiments of sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate (SDBS) were carried out under MW irradiation in the presence of AC/TiO2 or AC/ZnO. The influences of catalyst dose, irradiation time, initial SDBS concentration and solution acidity on the degradation were assessed in detail. The results showed that the addition of TiO2 or ZnO obviously promoted the degradation and AC/TiO2 system displayed higher catalytic activity under MW irradiation. Thus the method of MW irradiation with AC/TiO2 or AC/ZnO revealed many advantages of rapid degradation rate, short irradiation time, low cost, no residual intermediates and no secondary pollution in applications.

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