In this study, a novel cellulose/Ag/TiO2 nanocomposite was successfully synthesized via the hydrothermal method. The cellulose extracted from oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB) could address the disposal issue created by OPEFB biomass. Characterization studies such as FESEM, EDX, HRTEM, XRD, FTIR, UV-Vis DRS, PL, XPS, and surface analysis were conducted. It was observed that the incorporation of cellulose could hinder the agglomeration, reduce the band gap energy to 3 eV, increase the specific surface area to 150.22 m3/g, and lower the recombination rate of the generated electron-hole pairs compared to Ag/TiO2 nanoparticles. The excellent properties enhance the sonocatalytic degradation efficiency of 10 mg/L Congo red (up to 81.3% after 10 min ultrasonic irradiation) in the presence of 0.5 g/L cellulose/Ag/TiO2 at 24 kHz and 280 W. The improvement of catalytic activity was due to the surface plasmon resonance effect of Ag and numerous hydroxyl groups on cellulose that capture the holes, which delay the recombination rate of the charge carriers in TiO2. This study demonstrated an alternative approach in the development of an efficient sonocatalyst for the sonocatalytic degradation of Congo red.
Keywords: Congo red; cellulose; silver doping; sonocatalysis; titanium dioxide.