The preparation and catalytic activity of iron oxide silica nanofibers for the Fenton degradation of methylene blue.
Vaal University of Technology
Several industries utilize species of synthetic dyes that are found in their wastewater, which is passed out in the environment. Methylene blue is one of the organic dyes that causes water pollution. It causes damage to the aquatic eco-system and health problems to human beings. It is non-biodegradable due to its chemical nature. Advanced oxidation processes (AOP’s) have been developed for the degradation of these dyes, however, some of these methods are limited due to their high cost and low efficiency. Among these methods, Fenton catalysis has been proven to be an effective method due to its low cost, high efficiency, and re-usability. Iron oxide nanoparticles have been mainly used in Fenton process however they are also limitated due to the forming of secondary pollutants, due to catalysts recovery difficulties, hence they require supporting materials. In this work, iron oxide-based catalyst supported on silica nanofibers were fabricated via electrospinning of silica sol incorporated with iron oxide, using three different routes, (a) Method 1 - wetness incipient impregnation, (b) Method 2 - direct addition of iron precursor to the silica sol and (c) Method 3 - incorporation of iron oxide nanoparticles into silica sol. The effect of iron oxide concentration loadings (1 wt%, 2 wt% and 5 wt %) was studied. Increase in iron content resulted in agglomeration of nanoparticles as embedded in the fibers as evident from their SEM images in method 3.1. The SEM results showed diameters from method 1, 2 and 3 ranging from the distribution ranges of 276 – 288 nm, 243 – 265 nm and 188 nm, respectively. EDS showed the presences of Si, P, Fe, O and P. XRD showed a crystalline phase of magnetite (9 nm) and goethite (32 nm) method 1 and 3, with vibrational modes at 3300 cm-1, 1100 cm-1, 950 cm-1 and 580 cm-1 ascribed to O-H, Si-O-Si, Si-O and Fe-O on the FTIR spectra, it showed both the presence of silica and iron oxide. The degradation of methylene blue was monitored by UV-Vis spectroscopy, the Fenton catalytic activity of the iron-oxide supported on silica nanofibers showed higher catalytic activity compared to the unsupported iron-oxide nanoparticles. The catalyst prepared by wetness incipient impregnation (method 1) had a degradation efficiency of 69.1%, the direct addition of iron precursor to the silica sol (method 2) had 75.2% and incorporation of iron oxide nanoparticles magnetite and goethite with the silica sol had 53.7% and 34.7%, respectively. The catalyst prepared by the direct addition of iron precursor in the sol (method 2) showed a high catalytic activity compared to the other catalyst prepared by other methods. Unsupported Iron oxide nanoparticles had a higher degree of leaching of 1.28 ppm magnetite, and 1.68 ppm goethite, compared to the supported iron oxide in method 1 and method 3. The catalyst incorporated with goethite showed a high degree of leaching, 3.95 ppm and 1.33 ppm. The catalyst with high catalytic activity showed a lower degree of leaching with 0.05 ppm.
M.Tech. (Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences), Vaal University of Technology.
Catalytic activity, Iron oxide silica nanofibers, Fenton degradation, Methylene blue, Organic dyes, Advanced oxidation processes (AOP's), Iron oxide nanoparticles