Degradation of diethyl phthalate (DEP) by vacuum ultraviolet process: influencing factors, oxidation products, and toxicity assessment

  • Yangtao Wu
  • Lin DengEmail author
  • Lingjun Bu
  • Shumin Zhu
  • Zhou Shi
  • Shiqing ZhouEmail author
Research Article


The vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) process, which can directly produce hydroxyl radical from water, is considered to be a promising oxidation process in degrading contaminants of emerging concern, because of no need for extra reagents. In this study, the influencing factors and mechanism for degradation of diethyl phthalate (DEP) by the VUV process were investigated. The effects of irradiation intensity, inorganic anions, natural organic matter (NOM), and H2O2 dosage on the performance of VUV process were evaluated. The results showed that DEP could be more efficiently degraded by the VUV process compared with ultraviolet (UV)-254-nm irradiation. The presence of HCO3, NO3 and NOM in the aqueous solutions inhibited the degradation of DEP to a different degree, mainly by competing hydroxyl radicals (HO) with DEP. Degradation rate and removal efficiency of DEP by VUV process significantly enhanced with the addition of H2O2, while excess H2O2 dosage could inhibit the DEP degradation. Moreover, based on the identified seven oxidation byproducts and their time-dependent evolution profiles, a possible pathway for DEP degradation during the VUV process was proposed. Finally, the ecotoxicity of DEP and its oxidation byproducts reduced overall according to the calculated results from Ecological Structure Activity Relationships (ECOSAR) program. The electrical energy per order (EE/O) was also assessed to analysis the energy cost of the DEP degradation in the VUV process. Our work showed the VUV process could be an alternative and environmental friendly technology for removing contaminants in water.


Vacuum ultraviolet Hydroxyl radicals Oxidation byproducts Pathway Ecotoxicity 


Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation (51508174), the Fund of State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse (PCRRF17023), and the Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province (2018JJ3059).

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3914_MOESM1_ESM.docx (72 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 71 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Building Safety and Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Education, Department of Water Engineering and Science, College of Civil EngineeringHunan UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Environmental Engineering and Science Program, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (ChEE)University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

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