• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 11, No 3 (2020)

Synthesis of Nano-Photocatalyst ZnO-Natural Zeolite to Degrade Procion Red

Synthesis of Nano-Photocatalyst ZnO-Natural Zeolite to Degrade Procion Red

Title: Synthesis of Nano-Photocatalyst ZnO-Natural Zeolite to Degrade Procion Red
Tuty Emilia Agustina, Elda Melwita, David Bahrin, Rianyza Gayatri, Indah Fitriany Purwaningtyas

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Cite this article as:
Agustina, T.E., Melwita, E., Bahrin, D., Gayatri, R., Purwaningtyas, I.F., 2020. Synthesis of Nano-Photocatalyst ZnO-Natural Zeolite to Degrade Procion Red. International Journal of Technology. Volume 11(3), pp. 472-281

Tuty Emilia Agustina Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Sriwijaya, 30662, Indralaya, South Sumatra, Indonesia
Elda Melwita Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Sriwijaya, 30662, Indralaya, South Sumatra, Indonesia
David Bahrin Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Sriwijaya, 30662, Indralaya, South Sumatra, Indonesia
Rianyza Gayatri Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Sriwijaya, 30662, Indralaya, South Sumatra, Indonesia
Indah Fitriany Purwaningtyas Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Sriwijaya, 30662, Indralaya, South Sumatra, Indonesia
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Synthesis of Nano-Photocatalyst ZnO-Natural Zeolite to Degrade Procion Red

The development of textile factories has had a significant impact on the environment because dye wastewater is difficult to degrade. The handling of textile wastewater usually involves the adsorption method, in which pollutants only transfer to another phase. As an alternative solution, a photodegradation method was developed using photocatalyst material assisted by ultraviolet irradiation. In this photodegradation method, dye substances are broken down into components that are simpler and safer for the environment. The possibility of using sunlight as a radiation source makes this a particularly promising method for countries such as Indonesia. Procion red, one of the most commonly utilized synthetic dyes in the home textile or Batik industry, was used as a model pollutant in this study. The objectives of the present research were to synthesize and characterize a nano-photocatalyst of ZnO-natural zeolite with the capacity to degrade Procion red. This nano-photocatalyst was synthesized using the sol-gel method, by which Zn(CH3COO)2 2H2O was used as a precursor and combined with natural zeolite to increase its photocatalytic ability. The nano-photocatalyst was characterized using X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscope/energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET). The activity of nano-photocatalyst ZnO-natural zeolite was compared to ZnO alone and natural zeolite alone in terms of its ability to degrade Procion red. An average photocatalyst crystallite diameter of 82 nm was achieved, proving that a nano-sized photocatalyst of ZnO-natural zeolite was successfully synthesized. BET characterization showed that nano-photocatalyst ZnO-natural zeolite had a specific surface area of 14.84 m2/g, a pore size of 32.71 nm, and a pore volume of 0.12 cm2/g. A peak Procion red degradation percentage of 96.23% was obtained using nano-photocatalyst ZnO-natural zeolite after 120 minutes of irradiation under sunlight applied to a Procion red concentration of 50 ppm.

Nano-photocatalyst; Natural zeolite; Photodegradation; Procion red; ZnO


The development of the textile industry has certainly had an impact on the environment, as the dye wastewater produced by this industry is difficult to degrade. Dye-containing wastewater usually consists of non-biodegradable organic compounds that can contribute to pollution, especially in aquatic environments. However, the wastewater produced by the textile industry also contains synthetic dyes that are harmful to the environment. Procion red is one of the most commonly used synthetic dyes in the home textile or Batik industry. This synthetic dye is difficult to degrade due to the strong covalent bonds between the carbon atoms of the dye stuff  and the O,  N,  or  S  atoms of the hydroxy, amino, or thiol groups of the polymer (Hunger, 2003).

 Degradation methods, such as coagulation-flocculation (Rusydi et al., 2016) and a combination of electrocoagulation and photocatalysis (Sharfan et al., 2018), have been developed for dyes in the textile industry. However, these chemical processing methods apply large quantities of chemicals and produce sludge, which must be separated at the end of process. Membrane applications are quite effective but require significant operational costs and have the disadvantage of introducing new problems, such as the production of compounds with more concentrated pollutant levels. A photodegradation method using photocatalyst materials and ultraviolet light irradiation has been developed as an alternative method (Agustina et al., 2015; Zhao et al., 2015). Among modern methods of dealing with wastewater, photodegradation is relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Widely studied photocatalysts include metal oxide semiconductors, such as ZnO and TiO2. The ZnO semiconductor has an advantage over TiO2 because it is able to absorb the UV spectrum of the sun and quantum of light more readily than TiO2. In addition, ZnO is an efficient photocatalyst material for the detoxification of wastewater because it produces H2O2 more efficiently than other photocatalysts (Hidayanto et al., 2013; Mydeen et al., 2019). ZnO is widely used due to its cost-effectiveness, high oxidation ability, and wide availability. However, electron-hole recombination can block the photocatalytic activity of pure ZnO.

        Research has been carried out to investigate the pure photocatalytic activity of semiconductors, such as ZnO, in degrading organic compounds, such as synthetic dyes. Photocatalyst activity can be increased through the development of supporting materials, such as natural zeolites. Natural zeolite, a cheap and locally available absorbent, has been used in the energy field and for many applications such as additives, catalysts, ion exchangers, and absorbents (Millar et al., 2016; Papa et al., 2017; Wulandari et al., 2019). Zeolite is used as a carrier molecular because its crystal structure is porous and has a large surface area, it is composed of a silica-alumina skeleton, it has a high thermal stability, and its presence is quite abundant (Wang and Peng, 2010). The pore structure of zeolite also allows it to be used as a host material (Rahman et al., 2018). Moreover, zeolite is recommended for the degradation of dye through adsorption due to its large surface area (Viswanathan, 2018). The surface area and acidity of natural zeolite could be modified easily (Suhartana et al., 2018; Wulandari et al., 2019). The present study utilized natural zeolite from West Java.

        Many efforts have been made to enhance the photocatalytic performance, especially in dye degradation. Such efforts have involved making ZnO-zeolite composites by impregnation methods (Salam et al., 2018), doping ZnO nanoparticles with natural zeolite (Rahman et al., 2018), and adding noble metals, such as Ag nanoparticles (Kusdianto et al., 2019) and Fe3O4 (Winatapura et al., 2016). ZnO has a low capacity for adsorption as a photocatalyst, but ZnO photocatalysts can be combined with adsorbents, such as zeolite, to face this problem (Wismayanti, 2015). Therefore, the present study aimed to synthesize photocatalysts of nano-sized ZnO-natural zeolites in order to utilize the adsorbent properties of natural zeolites as well as the photocatalytic properties of ZnO. The obtained photocatalyst material was tested for photocatalyst activity in the degradation of synthetic dyes. Then, this activity was compared with the degradation of Procion red by standard ZnO and natural zeolites alone.


Nano-photocatalyst ZnO-natural zeolite was synthesized using Zn(CH3COO)2 2H2O precursors and activated natural zeolite. Characterization of this photocatalyst showed that it was formed with an average crystallite size of 82 nm, a specific surface area of 14.84 m2/g, a pore size of 32.71 nm, and a pore volume of 0.12 cm2/g. The use of nano-photocatalyst ZnO-natural zeolite produced the highest synthetic dye degradation percentage (96.23%) in the degradation of 50 ppm Procion red under 120 minutes of sunlight irradiation.


The authors would like to thank LPPM Universitas Sriwijaya for funding this research through Hibah Unggulan Kompetitif of 2018. The authors also wish to acknowledge the Waste Management Technology Laboratory of the Chemical Engineering Department for providing laboratory assistance.


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