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Real-Time Deduction of Mechanisms and Kinetics Underlying Photocatalytic Water Disinfection: Cell Motility and Particle Tracking

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posted on 2023-08-15, 16:05 authored by Niraj Ashutosh Vidwans, Kathy Y. Rhee, Pushkar P. Lele, Sreeram Vaddiraju
The current methods used to study photocatalysis-assisted water disinfection at a laboratory scale may not lead to process scale-up for large-scale implementation. These methods do not capture the process complexity and address all the factors underlying disinfection kinetics, including the physical characteristics (e.g., shape and size) of the photocatalyst, the light intensity, the form of the catalyst (e.g., free-floating and immobilized), and the photocatalyst–microorganism interaction mode (e.g., collision mode and constant contact mode). This drawback can be overcome using in situ methods to track the interaction between the photocatalysts and the microorganisms (e.g., Escherichia coli) and thereby engineering the resulting disinfection kinetics. Contextually, this study employed microscopy and particle-tracking algorithms to quantify in situ cell motility of E. coli undergoing titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanowire-assisted photocatalysis, which was observed to correlate with cell viability closely. This experimentation also informed that the E. coli bacterium interacted with the photocatalysts through collisions (without sustained contact), which allowed for phenomenological modeling of the observed first-order kinetics of E. coli inactivation. Addition of fluorescent-tagging assays to microscopy revealed that cell membrane integrity loss is the primary mode of bacterial inactivation. This methodology is independent of the microorganism or the photocatalyst type and hence is expected to be beneficial for engineering disinfection kinetics.

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