Improvement of Ti/RuO2–IrO2 Anode Lifetime and Electrocatalytical Properties by Using an Eco-Friendly Thermal Decomposition Method Using Polyvinyl Alcohol as Solvent

Electrochemical oxidation processes are promising solutions for wastewater treatment due to their high efficiency, easy control and versatility. Mixed metal oxides (MMO) anodes are particularly attractive due to their low cost and specific catalytic properties. Here, we propose an innovative thermal decomposition methodology using polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) as a solvent to prepare Ti/RuO2–IrO2 anodes. Comparative anodes were prepared by conventional method employing a polymeric precursor solvent (Pechini method). The calcination temperatures studied were 300, 400 and 500 °C. The physical characterisation of all materials was performed by X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy, while electrochemical characterisation was done by cyclic voltammetry, accelerated service lifetime and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Both RuO2 and IrO2 have rutile-type structures for all anodes. Rougher and more compact surfaces are formed for the anodes prepared using PVA. Amongst temperatures studied, 300 °C using PVA as solvent is the most suitable one to produce anodes with expressive increase in voltammetric charge (250%) and accelerated service lifetime (4.3 times longer) besides reducing charge-transfer resistance (8 times lower). Moreover, the electrocatalytic activity of the anodes synthesised with PVA toward the Reactive Blue 21 dye removal in chloride medium (100 % in 30 min) is higher than that prepared by Pechini method (60 min). Additionally, the removal total organic carbon point out improved mineralisation potential of PVA anodes. Finally, this study reports a novel methodology using PVA as solvent to synthesise Ti/RuO2–IrO2 anodes with improved properties that can be further extended to synthesise other MMO compositions.