A comprehensive review on state-of-the-art photo-, sono-, and sonophotocatalytic treatments to degrade emerging contaminants

  • H. C. Yap
  • Y. L. PangEmail author
  • S. Lim
  • A. Z. Abdullah
  • H. C. Ong
  • C.-H. Wu


Emerging contaminants (ECs) are commonly originated from personal care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and alkylphenolic compounds. Due to the huge development of these industries, these ECs have been constantly detected in wastewater, groundwater, and surface water in hazardous quantity. The discharge of these ECs into the environment causes considerable non-esthetic pollution and could be a great threat to the entire ecosystem. The common wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) which consist of biological, physical, and chemical treatments such as activated sludge, filtration, adsorption, and coagulation are found to be ineffective for desired removal of ECs. In turn, various emerging advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) such as ultrasonic and ultraviolet irradiation with or without the presence of catalyst have raised great attention due to their great potential in remediation of ECs. This paper presents a critical review on types, recent occurrence, sources, environmental impacts, and emerging treatment methods applicable to treat ECs. The current research and applications of ultrasonic, ultraviolet, and combination of both irradiations to treat ECs in wastewater are particularly reviewed. The effect of key parameters on photo-, sono- and, sonophotocatalytic degradation of ECs are commendably accessed such as ultrasonic power, ultrasonic frequency, light intensity, ultraviolet wavelength, solution pH, oxidizing agents, chemical additives, catalyst dosage, and modification of catalyst. The possible reaction mechanisms of ECs degradation process and kinetic model study are also elucidated in detail. Lastly, future research directions and conclusions are proposed to strengthen the understanding on their fate in water. All this information is vital to predict the negative impacts of ECs on the receiving environment effectively.


Emerging contaminants Degradation Photocatalysis Sonocatalysis Sonophotocatalysis 



This study was financially supported by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Research Grant through the Centre for Photonics and Advanced Materials Research and Centre for Environment and Green Technology, UTAR (IPSR/RMC/UTARRF/2018-C1/P01). The financial support provided by Fundamental Research Grant Scheme by the Ministry of Education (MOE) Malaysia is also acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest in the preparation of this review article.


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and ScienceUniversiti Tunku Abdul RahmanKajangMalaysia
  2. 2.School of Chemical EngineeringUniversiti Sains MalaysiaNibong TebalMalaysia
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  4. 4.Department of Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Sciences, College of Nuclear ScienceNational Tsing Hua UniversityHsinchuTaiwan

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