Evaluation of nanoscale zerovalent iron particles for trichloroethene degradation in clayey soils

Yelena P Katsenovich, Fernando R Miralles-Wilhelm
Science of the Total Environment 2009 September 1, 407 (18): 4986-93
The longevity and reactivity of nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) and palladized bimetallic particles (BNP) were evaluated in batch and column experiments for remediation of a trichloroethene (TCE)-contaminated plume within a clayey soil from Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). Comparative studies assessing the viability of BNP and nZVI confirmed that particle behavior is severely affected by clay sediments. Surface morphology and composition analyses using SEM and SEM-energy-dispersive spectroscopy spectrum revealed particle agglomeration through the formation of clay-iron aggregates of greater mass during the early phase of the experiment. Batch study results suggest that TCE degradation in ORR clayey soil follows a pseudo-first-order kinetic model exhibiting reaction rate constants (k) of 0.05-0.24 day(-1) at varied iron-to-soil ratios. Despite high reactivity in water, BNP were less effective in the site-derived clay sediment with calculated TCE removal efficiencies of 98.7% and 19.59%, respectively. A column experiment was conducted to investigate particle longevity and indicator parameters of the TCE degradation process under flow conditions. It revealed that the TCE removal efficiency gradually declined over the course of the experiment from 86-93% to 51-52%, correlating to a progressive increase in oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) from -485 to -250 mV and pH drop from 8.2-8.6 to 7.4-7.5. The rate of nZVI deactivation reaction was found to be a first order with a k(d) value of 0.0058 day(-1). SEM images of residual nZVI revealed heavily agglomerated particles. However, despite widespread oxidation and agglomeration, particles managed to maintain some capacity for oxidation. A quantitative analysis of nZVI deactivation has the potential of predicting nZVI longevity in order to improve the design strategy of TCE remediation.

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