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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Feb 15;41(4):1257-64.

Role of organically complexed iron(II) species in the reductive transformation of RDX in anoxic environments.

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  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 205 North Mathews, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


Organically complexed iron species can play a significant role in many subsurface redox processes, including reactions that contribute to the transformation and degradation of soil and aquatic contaminants. Experimental results demonstrate that complexation of Fe(II) by catechol- and thiol-containing organic ligands leads to formation of highly reactive species that reduce RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) and related N-heterocyclic nitramine explosive compounds to formaldehyde and inorganic nitrogen byproducts. Under comparable conditions, relative reaction rates follow HMX << RDX << MNX < DNX < TNX. Observed rates of RDX reduction are heavily dependent on the identity of the Fe(II)-complexing ligands and the prevailing solution conditions (e.g., pH, Fe(II) and ligand concentrations). In general, reaction rates increase with increasing pH and organic ligand concentration when the concentration of Fe(II) is fixed. In solutions containing Fe(II) and tiron, a model catechol, observed pseudo-first-order rate constants (k(obs)) for RDX reduction are linearly correlated with the concentration of the 1:2 Fe(II)-tiron complex (FeL2(6-)), and kinetic trends are well described by -d[RDX]/dt= k(FeL2)6-[FeL2(6-)][RDX], where k(FeL2)6- = 7.31(+/-2.52) x 10(2) M(-1) s(-1). The reaction products and net stoichiometry (1 mol of RDX reduced for every 2 mol of Fe(II) oxidized) support a mechanism where RDX ring cleavage and decomposition is initiated by sequential 1-electron transfers from two Fe(II)-organic complexes.

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