While phthalate esters are commonly used as plasticizers to improve the flexibility and workability of polymeric materials, their presence and detection in various environments has become a significant concern. Phthalate esters are known to have endocrine-disrupting effects, which affects reproductive health and physical development. As a result, there is now increased focus and urgency to develop effective and energy efficient technologies capable of removing these harmful compounds from the environment. This review explores the use of semiconductor photocatalysis as an efficient and promising solution towards achieving removal and degradation of phthalate esters. A comprehensive review of photocatalysts reported in the literature demonstrates the range of materials including commercial TiO2, solar activated catalysts and composite materials capable of enhancing adsorption and degradation. The degradation pathways and kinetics are also considered to provide the reader with an insight into the photocatalytic mechanism of removal. In addition, through the use of two key platforms (the technology readiness level scale and electrical energy per order), the crucial parameters associated with advancing photocatalysis for phthalate ester removal are discussed. These include enhanced surface interaction, catalyst platform development, improved light delivery systems and overall system energy requirements with a view towards pilot scale and industrial deployment.
- phthalate esters; photodegradation; photocatalyst; advanced oxidation processes; pollutant removal