Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Chemical Engineering

Program or Major

Chemical Engineering

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Nan Yi


Pollution in wastewater effluvia from phenol and phenolic compounds is a common occurrence in many industrial manufacturing plants. Phenol is toxic to human beings as well as a contaminant to the environment, meanwhile, it is difficult to remove from wastewater due to its non-biodegradable nature. To boost the rate of decomposition, various catalytic approaches have been developed. With the interest of decreasing operation cost, titanium dioxide (TiO2) based catalysts have emerged as good candidates for the photocatalytic process.

In this honors project, a series of TiO2 based catalysts, including TiO2, N-TiO2, Cu-TiO2, and Cu-N-TiO2, were utilized to study the decomposition of phenol. Each catalyst was studied under the visible light (589nm) and UV light (385nm) conditions. The UV-Vis spectrophotometer was used to evaluate the catalytic performance. The results revealed that the addition of nitrogen improved the decomposition rate of phenol compared with that of TiO2 itself. Copper did not show improved photocatalysis and requires further investigation.