Immobilised cerium-doped zinc oxide as a photocatalyst for the degradation of antibiotics and the inactivation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Ian Zammit, Vincenzo Vaiano, Ana R. Ribeiro, Adrián M. T. Silva, Célia M. Manaia, Luigi Rizzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The threat of antibiotic resistance to the wellbeing of societies is well established. Urban wastewater treatment plants (UWTPs) are recognised sources for antibiotic resistance dissemination in the environment. Herein a novel cerium-doped zinc oxide (Ce-ZnO) photocatalyst is compared to ZnO and the benchmark TiO 2 -P25 in the immobilised form on a metallic support, to evaluate a photocatalytic process as a possible tertiary treatment in UWTPs. The catalysts were compared for the removal of two antibiotics, trimethoprim (TMP) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX), and for the inactivation of Escherichia coli (E. coli) strain DH5-Alpha in isotonic sodium chloride solution and of autochthonous bacteria in real secondary wastewater. In real wastewater, E. coli and other coliforms were monitored, as well as the respective fractions resistant to ofloxacin and azithromycin. In parallel, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the respective sub-population resistant to ofloxacin or ciprofloxacin were also monitored. Photocatalysis with both ZnO and Ce-ZnO was faster than using TiO 2 -P25 at degrading the antibiotics, with Ce-ZnO the fastest against SMX but slower than undoped ZnO in the removal of TMP. Ce-ZnO catalyst reuse in the immobilised form produced somewhat slower kinetics maintained >50% of the initial activity, even after five cycles of use. Approximately 3 log10 inactivation of E. coli in isotonic sodium chloride water was recorded with reproducible results. In the removal of autochthonous bacteria in real wastewater, Ce-ZnO performed better (more than 2 log values higher) than TiO 2 -P25. In all cases, E. coli and other coliforms, including their resistant subpopulations, were inactivated at a higher rate than P. aeruginosa. With short reaction times no evidence for enrichment of resistance was observed, yet with extended reaction times low levels of bacterial loads were not further inactivated. Overall, Ce-ZnO is an easy and cheap photocatalyst to produce and immobilise and the one that showed higher activity than the industry standard TiO2-P25 against the tested antibiotics and bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Article number222
Number of pages17
JournalCatalysts
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Immobilised photocatalyst
  • Photocatalysis
  • Tertiary treatment
  • Wastewater disinfection

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