Purpose: The disinfection efficiency of water and secondary treated wastewater by means of photoelectrocatalytic oxidation (PEC) using reference strains of Enterococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli as faecal indicators was evaluated. Operating parameters such as applied potential (2-10 V), initial bacterial concentration (10-10 CFU/mL), treatment time (up to 90 min) and aqueous matrix (pure water and treated effluent) were assessed concerning their impact on disinfection. Methods: PEC experiments were carried out using a TiO/Ti film anode and a zirconium cathode in the presence of simulated solar radiation. Bacterial inactivation was monitored by the culture method and real-time SYBR green PCR. Results: A 6. 2 log reduction in E. faecalis population was achieved after 15 min of PEC treatment in water at 10 V of applied potential and an initial concentration of 10 CFU/mL; pure photocatalysis (PC) led to only about 4. 3 log reduction, whilst negligible inactivation was recorded when the respective electrochemical oxidation process was applied (i. e. without radiation). PEC efficiency was generally improved increasing the applied potential and decreasing initial bacterial concentration. Regarding real wastewater, E. coli was more susceptible than E. faecalis during treatment at a potential of 5 V. Wastewater disinfection was affected by its complex composition and the contained mixed bacterial populations, yielding lower inactivation rates compared to water treatment. Screening the results obtained from both applied techniques (culture method and real-time PCR), there was a discrepancy regarding the recorded time periods of total bacterial inactivation, with qPCR revealing longer periods for complete bacterial reduction. Conclusions: PEC is superior to PC in terms of E. faecalis inactivation presumably due to a more efficient separation and utilization of the photogenerated charge carriers, and it is mainly affected by the applied potential, initial bacterial concentration and the aqueous matrix.
- E. faecalis
- E. coli