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Effect of O2, Ni0 coatings, and iron oxide phases on pentachlorophenol dechlorination by zero-valent iron

Gunawardana, Buddhika, Swedlund, Peter J., Singhal, Naresh
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.27 pp. 27687-27698
aerobic conditions, anaerobic conditions, aqueous solutions, catalytic activity, coatings, coprecipitation, dechlorination, dissolved oxygen, ferrihydrite, hematite, hydrogen production, hydrogenation, iron, lepidocrocite, maghemite, magnetite, nickel, oxygen, pentachlorophenol, phenol, sorption, sulfuric acid
This study explores the zero-valent iron (ZVI) dechlorination of pentachlorophenol (PCP) and its dependence on the dissolved oxygen (O₂), presence/formation of iron oxides, and presence of nickel metal on the ZVI surface. Compared to the anoxic system, PCP dechlorination was slower in the presence of O₂, which is a potential competitive electron acceptor. Despite O₂ presence, Ni⁰ deposited on the ZVI surfaces catalyzed the hydrogenation reactions and enhanced the PCP dechlorination by Ni-coated ZVI bimetal (Nic/Fe). The presence of O₂ led to the formation of passivating oxides (maghemite, hematite, lepidocrocite, ferrihydrite) on the ZVI and Nic/Fe bimetallic surfaces. These passive oxides resulted in greater PCP incorporation (sorption, co-precipitation, and/or physical entrapment with the oxides) and decreased PCP dechlorination in the oxic systems compared to the anoxic systems. As received ZVI comprised of a wustite film, and in the presence of O₂, only ≈ 17% PCP dechlorination observed after 25 days of exposure with tetrachlorophenol being detected as the end product. Wustite remained as the predominant oxide on as received ZVI during the 25 days of reaction with PCP under oxic and anoxic conditions. ZVI acid-pretreatment resulted in the replacement of wustite with magnetite and enhanced PCP degradation (e.g. ≈ 52% of the initial PCP dechlorinated after 25 days under oxic condition) with accumulation of mixtures of tetra-, tri-, and dichlorophenols. When the acid-washed ZVI was rinsed in NiSO₄/H₂SO₄ solution, Ni⁰ deposited on the ZVI surface and all the wustite were replaced with magnetite. After 25 days of exposure to the Nic/Fe, ≈ 78% and 97% PCP dechlorination occurred under oxic and anoxic conditions, respectively, producing predominantly phenol. Wustite and magnetite are respectively electrically insulating and conducting oxides and influenced the dechlorination and H₂ production. In conclusion, this study clearly demonstrates that the dissolved oxygen present in the aqueous solution decreases the PCP dechlorination and increases the PCP incorporation when using ZVI and Nic/Fe bimetallic systems. The findings provide novel insights towards deciphering and optimizing the performance of complex ZVI and bimetallic systems for PCP dechlorination in the presence of O₂.