TiO2-based hybrid nanocomposites modified by phosphonate molecules as selective PAH adsorbents

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© 2018 by the authors. A robust sol-gel process was developed for the synthesis of surface-functionalized titania nanocrystallites bearing unsaturated groups starting from molecular heteroleptic single-source precursors. Molecules and nanomaterials were thoroughly characterized by multinuclear liquid and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), infra-red (FT-IR, DRIFT) spectroscopies. Nitrogen adsorption-desorption (BET), thermogravimetric (TG) and elemental analyses demonstrated the reliability and the fine tuning of the surface functionalization in terms of ratio TiO2:ligand. The as-prepared materials were used as nano-adsorbents to remove mixture of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) from aqueous solutions. Adsorption kinetic experiments were carried out for 24 h in solutions of one PAH [benzo(a)pyrene, 220 ppb] and of a mixture of sixteen ones [220 ppb for each PAH]. Most kinetic data best fitted the pseudo-second order model. However, in PAHs mixture, a competition process took place during the first hours leading to a remarkable high selectivity between light and heavy PAHs. This selectivity could be fine-tuned depending on the nature of the unsaturated group of the phosphonate framework and on the nanomaterial textures.

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