Well-aligned ZnO nanorod arrays were assembled on activated carbon fibers by a stepwise sequence of sol-gel and hydrothermal synthesis methods. These ZnO nanorod arrays on activated carbon fibers having different characteristics such as surface area, rod concentration, aspect ratio and defect level, were applied as catalysts for the photodegradation of an aqueous methylene blue solution. They showed very promising methylene blue adsorbility in the dark (ca. 0.025–0.031 mg methylene blue m−2 catalyst, vs. 0.072 mg methylene blue m−2 activated carbon fibers). Significantly, the defect level of ZnO nanorod arrays has a major effect on the turnover frequency compared to other characteristics. A synergistic effect between activated carbon fibers and ZnO nanocrystals on enhancing turnover frequency was more significant for the well-assembled ZnO nanorod arrays on activated carbon fibers catalysts compared to the mechanically mixed ZnO powder with activated carbon fibers catalyst. Further, turnover frequency for the ZnO nanorod arrays on activated carbon fibers (0.00312 molmethylene blue molZnO−1 h−1) was twice higher than that for the corresponding bare ZnO nanorod arrays, and 3 times higher than that for a commercial ZnO powder. In addition, ZnO nanorod arrays on activated carbon fibers show high degradation (77.5%) and mineralization (55.0%) levels for methylene blue, and also good reusability (or stability) as demonstrated by a sequential 5-time recycle routine. These outstanding features indicate that activated carbon fibers supported ZnO nanorod arrays have significant potential to be used as catalysts for photodegradation.
- Defect level
- Synergistic effect