Quantification of the oxidizing capacity of nanoparticulate zero-valent iron

Hee Joo Sung, Andrew J. Feitz, David L. Sedlak, T. David Waite

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349 Scopus citations


Addition of nanoparticulate zero-valent iron (nZVI) to oxygen-containing water results in oxidation of organic compounds. To assess the potential application of nZVI for oxidative transformation of organic contaminants, the conversion of benzoic acid (BA) to p-hydroxybenzoic acid (p-HBA) was used as a probe reaction. When nZVI was added to BA-containing water, an initial pulse of p-HBA was detected during the first 30 min, followed by the slow generation of additional p-HBA over periods of at least 24 h. The yield of p-HBA increased with increasing BA concentration, presumably due to the increasing ability of BA to compete with alternate oxidant sinks, such as ferrous iron. At pH 3, maximum yields of p-HBA during the initial phase of the reaction of up to 25% were observed. The initial rate of nZVI-mediated oxidation of BA exhibited a marked reduction at pH values above 3. Despite the decrease in oxidant production rate, p-HBA was observed during the initial reaction phase at pH values up to 8. Competition experiments with probe compounds expected to exhibit different affinities for the nZVI surface (phenol, aniline, o-hydroxybenzoic acid, and synthetic humic acids) indicated relative rates of reaction that were similar to those observed in competition experiments in which hydroxyl radicals were generated in solution. Examination of the oxidizing capacity of a range of Fe0 particles reveals a capacity in all cases to induce oxidative transformation of benzoic acid, but the high surface areas that can be achieved with nanosized particles renders such particles particularly effective oxidants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1263-1268
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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