Natural molecular dye, anthocyanin, is described here as safe sensitizer for TiO2 particles in photo-degradation of organic contaminants in water. The dye is a promising replacement for the more costly and hazardous heavy metal based systems, such as CdS particles and Ru-compounds. TiO2/anthocyanin effectively catalyzed the photo-degradation of methyl orange contaminant under solar simulator radiation. The new TiO2/anthocyanin catalyst showed comparable efficiency to earlier systems, while avoiding their hazardous nature. When supported onto activated carbon (AC) particles, the resulting AC/TiO2/anthocyanin system showed enhanced efficiency and ease of recovery from the catalytic reaction mixture. The natural dye molecules showed the tendency to degrade under photo-degradation conditions, just like earlier hazardous sensitizers. However, complete mineralization of anthocyanin occurred leaving no traces of organic species in solution. Sensitizer degradation caused deactivation of the supported catalyst on recovery. Such a shortcoming was overcome by re-treatment of the recovered catalysts with fresh dye.
Effects of different reaction parameters on the catalyst efficiency were studied. A mechanism, similar to earlier CdS-sensitized catalyst systems, is proposed for the TiO2/anthocyanin catalyst.