This chapter presents the use of a commercial micro-sized TiO2 powder as an alternative to the traditional nano-powders as semiconductors in photocatalytic processes. Results of the photocatalytic efficiency towards the photodegradation of the traditional pollutant molecules both in gas phase (nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)) and in water phase (phenol) are presented and compared to the results obtained with two nano-sized reference powders. Micro-sized TiO2 is also industrially coated at the surfaces of porcelain grés tiles (Active Clean Air and Antibacterial Ceramic™). The possibility to have a photocatalytic material, strongly stuck at the surface of a vitrified tile, increases the use of photocatalysis in real conditions: no problem of filtration of the semiconductor from the liquid medium after use and no risks of leakage of nanoparticles in the atmosphere. Tests were performed using reactors equipped with UV-A lamps and with suitable analytical systems, depending on the final purpose. Characterization data from both powders and coated tiles are put in correlation with the photocatalytic results to understand the semiconductor action during the photocatalytic process. Polluting molecules were chosen in order to cover all the common aspects of environmental pollution: NOx and some VOCs represent the model molecules to test the efficiency of the micro-sized TiO2 (degradation from the pristine molecule to CO2 or inorganic salts) in gas phase. As for the water pollution, phenol was chosen as common pollutant in worldwide rivers. Moreover, tests on self-cleaning and antibacterial properties are also reported. The positive results of micro-sized TiO2 both in powder and coated onto the surface of porcelain grés tiles open the way to new photocatalytic products that do not make use of nanoscale powders avoiding problems to human safety caused by the inherent toxicity of the nanoparticles.
Part of the book: Semiconductor Photocatalysis