Removing harmful cyanobacteria intact by coagulation can prevent cell lysis and toxin release, which provides many benefits for drinking water production, including reduction of the burden on subsequent processes and guaranteeing the water quality. But the electronegativity and buoyancy of cyanobacterial cells make them settle slowly and their accumulation and concentration in flocs would still have severe adverse effects. In this study, we introduced a photocatalyst powder to act as a ballasting agent in the coagulation process and to degrade the cells and cyanotoxins during sludge storage. Results showed that adding N-TiO2 would decrease the coagulant dose to half of the conventional value, and also allow Microcystis aeruginosa cells to completely settle within 10 min. During sludge storage, the algal cells, cyanotoxins and other organics in sludge would be degraded to safe levels after 32 h' visible-light irradiation. Meanwhile, the N-TiO2, water and some of the coagulant in purified sludge will be directly and safely reused. Thus, this is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective technology which incorporates photocatalyst in algal flocs to enhance coagulation and sedimentation and to enable the sludge produced to be self-purified under visible-light. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.