Infoscience

Thesis

Helio-photocatalytic enhancement of the biodegradation of biorecalcitrant pollutants in water: physicochemical and technical aspects

The importance of the photocatalytic treatment of water is continuously growing since the 80s. In spite of the well management of the existing biological water treatment plants and the constant reinforcement of the wastewater discharge standards, the development of new water depolluting processes among which the photocatalysis is still relevant. It is recognized that certain chemicals mostly from the synthetic chemistry are not or could only be biodegradable under very critical conditions. When these "biorecalcitrant" pollutants are rejected in a biological wastewater treatment plant, they very often cross it without being degraded and thus, they accumulate in the environment and/or in the living beings. Some of them like the phthalates and the pesticides are known for their carcinogenic and mutagen effects or, they induce hormonal disruptions in the animals, including humans. In general, all the Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOP) whose characteristic is to generate hydroxyls radicals (OH) are able to degrade most of the organic molecules including the biorecalcitrant chemicals. As a technology using the photons emitted by a light source to excite a catalyst and facilitate the generation of the 'OH radicals, the photocatalysis would be a more environmental compatible and less expensive process for depolluting such chemicals, if the light source is natural: the sun. For the first time, a study of potential application in the field of helio- photocatalysis was explored in a sub-Saharan Africa country (Burkina Faso), making profitable the significant solar radiation present in that country, to validate certain results obtained using appropriated experimental and analytical methods at the Laboratory for Environmental Biotechnology (LBE) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. The main objective of this thesis was to contribute to evaluate some physicochemical and technical rules which guide the scaling up processing of the helio-photo-Fenton process. To achieve this, the work was organized in several phases of laboratory work at the EPFL and field apply work at the Ecole Inter-Etats d'Ingénieurs de l'Equipement Rural (EIER) of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. To mitigate the deficit of sophisticated analytical material during the field work's periods, a simple analytical method requiring relatively modest equipment was developed and validated in the laboratory and on the field. This thesis is organized in 5 chapters of which the first focuses on the problems of this research and presents the fundamental principles of the photocatalytic processes. Chapter 2 presents the systematic development of a low cost analytical method built up and validated in the laboratory for field's applied studies on three phthalates: the dimethyl phthalate (DMP), the diethyl phthalate (DEP) and the Diallyl phthalate (DAP). The chapter 3 focuses on the study of the optimal parameters influencing the helio-photodegradation of the DEP. In the chapter 4, two case studies on the enhancement of the biodegradability of some biorecalcitrants wastewaters of which, the first evaluates the possibility of integrating the photocatalysis into a global strategy of managing the effluents of a chemical industry and the other treat problem of the depollution of the water polluted by a pesticide are presented. The last chapter presents some modelling approaches allowing to evaluate the solar UVA energy (needed for the helio-photocatalysis) basing on the equation of the solar UVA irradiation which was proposed and tested with the one year solar data of Ouagadougou.

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