A low cost zeolite fly ash bead/TiO2 (ZFABT) composite materials with various surface structure features were prepared for describing those structures importance on TiO2 coating, adsorbability and photocatalytic performances. The results indicated that fly ash bead (FAB) surface was significantly altered by the precipitation/growth of secondary zeolite phases after alkali activation, which generates abundant open pores and stacked petal-liked spherical beads (∼2 μm, Sodalite zeolites). More importantly, this porosity increases as activation time was increased from 2 h to 12 h, through the precipitation of sodalite and then Na-P1 (lamellar crystals) and Na-X (octahedral crystals) zeolite structures. Compared to those of unsupported TiO2 or inactivated support/TiO2 samples, all of ZFABT samples exhibited a higher adsorption capacity and photocatalytic efficiency for RhB removal. However, adsorption is not only one factor to influence TiO2 surface reaction, the intraparticle diffusion rate of rhodamine B (RhB) molecules, and light penetration are also important parameters. Alkali activated 4 h ZFABT sample exhibited the highest photocatalytic activity, indicating its pore structure provided a better balance for those parameters to achieve a synergistic adsorption/photocatalytic process. The kinetics model suggested its high intraparticle diffusion rate allowed for more RhB molecules to easily reach the reaction surface, which is more important for high efficiency photocatalysis.
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of UK − Natural Science Foundation of China (EPSRC-NSFC) International Joint Research Project (51461135005).
- Alkali activation
- Enhanced adsorption
- Intraparticle diffusion
- Zeolite fly-ash bead