Properties, functionality and potential applications of novel modified iron nanoparticles for the treatment of 2,4,6-Trichlorophenol
Underwood, Laura Ann
2,4,6-trichlorophenol (TCP) is a pervasive carcinogenic water contaminant found in a wide variety of water and waste systems and is a pertinent model compound of broader aromatic organics, specifically organo-halide pesticides. These compounds are persistent in the environment and show resilience to regular water and waste treatment protocols thus warranting the development and implementation of novel treatment materials for improved contaminant removal. Zero-valent iron (ZVI) has demonstrated the ability to remove or degrade a wide variety of inorganic and organic water contaminants, including chlorophenols, and has been widely applied for in-situ groundwater remediation where contamination is often localised in a low-oxygen environment. ZVI’s broader applications in water treatment have remained mainly limited due to corrosion, particle dispersion, and confinement issues in deployment. This work, therefore, explored the development, functionality, and potential application of new modified nZVI materials (nZVI-Osorb) and assessed their potential to improve iron’s intrinsic functionality while also gauging the material’s viability for TCP remediation in water and waste systems. Materials produced in this thesis were prepared utilising three different embedment procedures (1-pot, multiple additions, oxygen-free). All embedment methods resulted in tightly bound composites featuring high surface areas (340.2-449.1 sq. m/g) with net iron composition ranging from 10% to 29.78% by mass. Electron imaging microscopy verified even dispersion of iron throughout the substrate. Composite materials did not exhibit a delayed rate of atmospheric corrosion over nZVI controls evincing an 18% nZVI0 loss per day until reaching a stabilised concentration (7%) after 48 hrs. nZVI-Osorb composites did produce more favourable iron oxide species which remain conducive to electron transfer from core Fe0 atom. After 50 days, a majority of nZVI in nZVI-Osorb had oxidised to maghemite (30%) and magnetite (26%) compared to control nZVI producing 19% and 12% respectively. Unreactive hematite accounted for 47% of the control and just 36% of the composite. While 1-pot embedment allowed the most substantial control over final iron composition, the oxygen-free method allowed the most reliable preservation of initial nZVI0 concentrations through restricted oxidation. Materials generated through oxygen-free embedment were utilised in the following water treatment trials with TCP. Parameters related to sorption and degradation mechanisms of TCP by nZVI-Osorb were tested in aerobic conditions, e.g. surface and potable water. nZVI-Osorb materials demonstrated high extraction capacity for TCP from aqueous solutions (Qe=1286.4 ±13.5 mg TCP/g Osorb, Qe=1253±106.7 mg TCP/g nZVI-Osorb, pH 5.1, 120mg/L TCP) and followed pseudo second order kinetics. In the broader class of chlorophenols, sorptive affinity mirrored partitioning values with highly substituted chlorophenols displaying the highest sorption capacities. Degradation of TCP by nZVI-Osorb or nZVI controls was not observed due to corrosive hindrance and inadequate reductive capacity, suggesting that materials may not be suitable for highly aerated surface and potable water treatment systems. Environmental conditions pertinent to sorption and degradation mechanisms were evaluated to improve understanding and robustness of functionality in low-oxygen applications, such as wastewater and anaerobic digesters, where nZVI-Osorb treatment is anticipated to be advantageous to TCP sorption and methane production. pH was found to influence sorption dramatically. Acidic solutions below 5 found sorption >90%. This capacity was reduced to <30% when pH was raised above TCP pKa value (6.23) to 7 and above. Further trials found a positive effect on TCP sorption (+7.55%) linked to net pH reduction (5.1 to 3.3) with the addition of secondary acids (volatile fatty acids: acetic, propionic, butyric, 3x 100mg/L) commonly found in anaerobic digester systems. Salinity did not affect TCP sorption. The removal of dissolved and atmospheric oxygen increased total sorption (40ppm-+1.94%, 100ppm- +7.93%, 200ppm- +0.89%, 400mg/L- +14.59%) through reduced iron corrosion and the production of favorable iron oxides, but did not facilitate contaminant degradation. Biodegradation mechanisms for TCP have broadly been established, and new research has supported the improved cometabolic degradation of recalcitrant contaminants like TCP and PCP in nZVI-dosed anaerobic digesters. Model anaerobic digester systems (3.9 g/L nZVI-Osorb, 25mg/L TCP, 240 mg/L acetic, 120mg/L propionic, 120mg/L butyric acid) containing bioreactor sludge (62.5%) were observed through standard water quality diagnostics (pH, ORP, COD, head pressure) for 14 days and suggested that nZVI-Osorb did not inhibit cellular processes. Increased electron activity from iron corrosion and hydrogen gas production, increased overall pH and decreased total ORP in these AD systems. TCP degradation by-products (DCP, CP) were detected in dilute concentrations (<0.01 mg/L) with poor recovery by LC-MS/MS. Results suggest that nZVIOsorb may be well-suited additive for AD systems. This study contributes to knowledge of the properties, functionality, and treatment mechanisms of metal-sorbent composites with a model chlorinated aromatic water contaminant in aerobic and anaerobic environments. The work identifies favourable environmental and process conditions to apply these materials in larger scale applications, particularly, anaerobic digestion and provides support for the continued refinement and improvement of nZVI based remediation systems.