Optimization of ZnO Nanoparticles’ Synthesis via Precipitation Method Applying Taguchi Robust Design

M.-A. Gatou, K. Kontoliou, E. Volla, K. Karachalios, G. Raptopoulos, P. Paraskevopoulou, N. Lagopati, E.A. Pavlatou

Catalysts 2023, 13, 1367

Zinc oxide (ZnO) possesses exceptional potential to be utilized in water and wastewater treatment applications, either as a photocatalyst or in membrane incorporation. In the present study, ZnO nanoparticles were synthesized using the precipitation method. The Taguchi approach with the L32b orthogonal array was utilized in order to optimize the experimental conditions for the synthesis of the nanoparticles and to ensure that relatively smaller-sized particles were obtained. The design was characterized by ten factors, where nine of them possessed four levels, while one had two levels. This study’s design factors were the type of Zn precursor, the concentration of the Zn precursor, the type of precipitating agent, the precipitation agent’s concentration, the type of utilized solvent, the pH value of the solvent, the temperature used during the synthetic procedure, the calcination temperature, the time of stirring during synthesis, as well as the stirring speed. The influences of those factors on the selected response parameters (the average crystallite size, degree of crystallinity, energy band gap (Eg), and photodegradation constant (k)) were then evaluated. XRD analysis and the calculated Eg values indicated that the hexagonal wurtzite structure was the only crystalline phase present in the produced samples. The photocatalytic efficiency of all ZnO nanoparticles was examined in the degradation of rhodamine B under UV light irradiation. The optimal conditions were achieved using zinc acetate dihydrate as the Zn precursor at a concentration equal to 0.3 M, sodium hydroxide as the precipitating agent (1.5 M), methanol as the solvent (the pH value of the solvent was equal to 13), a temperature during the synthetic procedure of 70 °C, 600 °C as calcination temperature, a 90 min stirring time, and 700 rpm as the stirring speed. The optimized ZnO sample was synthesized based on the aforementioned conditions and thoroughly characterized. The acquired results confirmed the prediction of the Taguchi approach, and the most enhanced k-value was observed.

doi: 10.3390/catal13101367

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