Synthesis and characterization of pine cone carbon supported iron oxide catalyst for dye and phenol degradation

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Mmelesi, Olga Kelebogile
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Vaal University of Technology
Fenton oxidation is classified into two processes, homogeneous and heterogeneous. Homogeneous Fenton oxidation process, have been shown to be efficient in the degradation of organic pollutants. However, it was shown to have limitations which can be addressed by the heterogeneous Fenton oxidation. Despite the high efficiency of the heterogeneous Fenton oxidation process in the degradation of recalcitrant organic pollutants, the currents synthesis trends of the heterogeneous Fenton catalyst have been proven to be time and energy constraining, since it involves the multi-step were the activated carbon have to be prepared first then co-precipitate the iron oxide on the activated carbon. However, as much as the heterogeneous Fenton catalyst has been proven to have high catalytic activity towards degradation of organic pollutants, these catalysts have some limitations, such limitations include metal ions being leached from the catalyst support into the treated water causing catalyst deactivation and a secondary pollution to the treated water. In this thesis, these catalysts have been applied in the degradation of recalcitrant organic pollutants such as methylene blue and phenols. This study focuses on the single step synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles supported on activated carbon, were carbonaceous material is impregnated with iron salt then pyrolysed via microwave heating. Microwave power and the amount of iron salt were optimized. The prepared activated carbon-iron oxide composites were applied to the degradation of 2-nitrophenol (2-NP) and methylene blue (MB). Methylene blue was used as a model compound due to the fact that it is easier to monitor the degradation process with UV-Vis as compared to 2-nitrophenol . 2-nitrophenol the additional step for the adjustment of pH is required since nitrophenols are colorless in color at lower pH. The characterization showed that the microwave power and the amount of the iron precursor have an influence on the porosity and surface functional groups of the activated carbon. Further it was vi observed that microwave power and iron precursor influnces the amount of iron oxide formed on the surface of the support. It was also observed that the activated carbon-iron oxide composite have the catalytic effects on the Fenton oxidation process of MB and 2-NP. The parameters such as H2O2, pH, catalyst dose, initial concentration, temperature affect the degradation of both MB and 2-NP. Kinetics studies showed that Fenton is a surface driven reaction since the results fitted the pseudo first order model. The thermodynamics parameters also showed that the reaction is endothermic, spontaneous and is randomized. This implies that the reaction of the degradation of MB and 2-NP is feasible and the catalysts prepared have high catalytic activity. MB and 2-NP were degraded to smaller organic molecules (carboxylic acids). The stability of the catalyst observed to decrease as the number of cycles increased, this is due to the leaching of iron ions from the support material. Hence it was concluded that the activated carbon-iron oxide composite was successfully synthesized and had the high catalytic activity for the degradation of MB and 2-NP.
M. Tech. (Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology), Vaal University of Technology
Wastewater, Wastewater Treatment Technologies, Fenton oxidation process, Carbon, Catalytic wet peroxide oxidation, Catalyst, Pine Cone, Lignin, Cellulose, Hemicelluloses