Electrochemical Oxidation of Organic Pollutants Powered by a Silicon-Based Solar Cell

Paula Perez-Rodriguez*, Carlos Maqueira Gonzalez, Yasmina Bennani, Luuk C. Rietveld, Miro Zeman, Arno H.M. Smets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Currently available (photo-)electrochemical technologies for water treatment establish a trade-off between low-pollutant concentration and costs. This paper aims at decoupling these two variables by designing a photo-oxidation device using earth abundant materials and an electronic-free approach. The proposed device combines a graphite/graphite electrochemical system with a silicon-based solar cell that provides the necessary electrical power. First, the optimum operational voltage for the graphite/graphite electrochemical system was found to be around 1.6 V. That corresponded closely to the voltage produced by an a-Si:H/a-Si:H tandem solar cell of approximately 1.35 V. This configuration was shown to provide the best pollutant degradation in relation to the device area, removing 70% of the initial concentration of phenol and 90% of the methylene blue after 4 h of treatment. The chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal of these two contaminants after 4 h of treatment was also promising, 55 and 30%, respectively. Moreover, connecting several solar cells in series led to higher pollutant degradation but lower COD removal, suggesting that the degradation of the intermediate components is a limiting factor. This is expected to be due to the higher currents achieved by the series-connected configuration, which would favor other reactions such as polymerization over the degradation of intermediate species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14392-14398
Number of pages7
JournalACS Omega
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2018


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