Electrocatalytic degradation of industrial wastewater using iron supported carbon-cloth electrode via Electro-Fenton oxidation process

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Emeji, Ikenna Chibuzor
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Vaal University of Technology
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) causes morbidity and mortality in infected patients. These epidemics are significantly reduced and treated globally with antiretroviral drugs (ARVDs). However, the eventual disposal of the ARVDs, either by excretion or otherwise, enables them to end up as emerging hazardous contaminants in our environment. Of all the available methods to remove ARVDs from our water bodies, electrochemical methods are reckoned to be one of the most effective. As a result, it is imperative to acknowledge the interactive behavior of these pharmaceuticals on the surface of the electrode. In this study, iron nano-particles were deposited on the carbon cloth electrode by electrodeposition using chronoamperometry techniques. The synthesized electrode was characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX), and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) microanalysis. The electrochemical characterization of the material was also carried out using cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The electrode's electrocatalytic activity toward the generation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) through a two-electron oxygen reduction reaction was assessed. Furtherance to this is the electrochemical degradation of nevirapine (NVP), lamivudine (LVD), and zidovudine (ZVD) in wastewater as a pharmaceutical model compound for organic pollutants in 50 mM K2SO4 electrolyte at a pH of 3. The SEM and EDX analysis showed the formation of iron nanoparticles within the matrix structure of the carbon cloth (CC) electrode. The XPS enlightened the presence of oxygen functional groups in the electrode's structure. EIS results are indicative that the modified electrode has a decreased charge transfer resistance (Rct)value as compared to the bare CC electrode. On the other hand, the CV result fosters good conductivity, enhanced current and large surface area of the modified electrode. More active and anchor sites were discovered on the iron-supported CC electrode which resulted in higher catalytic activity for the generation and accumulation of H2O2. The concentrations of “in-situ” generated H2O2 were found to be related to the current density supplied to the device after quantification. Although the accumulated H2O2 concentration appears to be low, it's possible that side reactions depleted the amount of H2O2 produced. As a result, the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) through 2e- has a higher electrocatalytic activity with the improved iron assisted CC electrode than bare CC electrode. The electrochemical degradation studies conducted with the modified CC electrode by electro-Fenton process show a decrease in the initial ARVDs concentration (20 mg/L) as compared with the bare electrode. Their rate constants were 1.52 x 10-3 mol-1min-1 for ZVD, 1.20 x 10-3 mol-1min-1 for NVP and 1.18 x 10-3 mol-1min-1 for LVD. The obtained removal efficiencies indicate that the iron nanoparticle in the synthesised improves the degradation efficiency.
PhD. (Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology), Vaal University of Technology.
Wastewater micro-pollutant, Antiretroviral drugs, Electro-Fenton oxidation process, Electrocatalytic degradation, Industrial wastewater