Preparation of Nb2O5-decorated hierarchical porous ZnO microspheres with enhanced photocatalytic degradation of palm oil mill effluent

  • Ying-Hui Chin
  • Jin-Chung SinEmail author
  • Sze-Mun Lam
  • Abdul Rahman Mohamed


In the present work, Nb2O5-decorated hierarchical porous ZnO microspheres (ZnO/Nb2O5) were successfully prepared through a facile surfactant-free method. The as-prepared samples were characterized by X-ray diffraction, field-emission scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, UV–Vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, photoluminescence spectroscopy and Brunauer–Emmett–Teller surface area analyses. Under UV light irradiation, the ZnO/Nb2O5 composites degraded palm oil mill effluent (POME) efficiently and demonstrated much higher photocatalytic activity compared to those of pure ZnO and Nb2O5. The enhanced photocatalytic degradation performance of ZnO/Nb2O5 composites was attributed to the high charge separation efficiency and hydroxyl radical generation ability as verified by the photoluminescence spectra. Phytotoxicity test upon the POME degradation over ZnO/Nb2O5 photocatalysis considerably decreased through the measurement of radicle lengths of Vigna radiata. Moreover, the ZnO/Nb2O5 composites were reused several times without appreciable loss of activity. This work revealed that the as-prepared ZnO/Nb2O5 composites have great potential for practical applications in the field of wastewater treatment.



This research was supported by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTARRF/2018-C1/S02 and UTARRF/2018-C1/L02) and Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia (FRGS/1/2015/TK02/UTAR/02/2 and FRGS/1/2016/TK02/UTAR/02/1).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Petrochemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Green TechnologyUniversiti Tunku Abdul RahmanKamparMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Green TechnologyUniversiti Tunku Abdul RahmanKamparMalaysia
  3. 3.School of Chemical EngineeringUniversiti Sains MalaysiaNibong TebalMalaysia

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