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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Jul 15;39(14):5183-9.

Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine transformation by biologically reduced ferrihydrite: evolution of Fe mineralogy, surface area, and reaction rates.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Iowa, 4105 Seamans Center, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1527, USA.


Microbial respiration of Fe(III) oxides has been shown to produce reduced Fe phases that are capable of transforming a variety of oxidized contaminants. Little data, however, are available on how these Fe phases evolve over time and how this evolution may affect their ability to reduce contaminants. Here,the evolution and reactivity of biologically reduced ferrihydrite were monitored over a period of 14 months. Solids were collected from a culture of Geobacter metallireducens (GS-15) thatwas incubated with ferrihydrite (as the electron acceptor) for 0, 7, 10, 20, 75, and 400 days. Mineralogical composition and surface area of the biologically reduced solids were characterized using Mössbauer spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and BET with N2 adsorption. By day 10, ferrihydrite began to transform, and a nanoparticle magnetite/maghemite phase, as well as two ferrous phases, was observed. One of the ferrous phases was identified as siderite, whereas the other could not be positively identified. Likely candidates, however, include Fe(OH)2(s) or an adsorbed Fe(II) species. Over the next few months, ferrihydrite was completely reduced and evolved into a mixture containing about 70% magnetite/maghemite, 19% siderite, and 11% of the second Fe(II) phase. The effect of incubation time on the reactivity of the biologically reduced solids was evaluated by measuring the kinetics of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) transformation. The only products observed were the three reduced nitroso products. Rate coefficients (k) for RDX transformation were dramatically influenced by incubation time with half-lives of about 1 month observed in the presence of solids incubated for 10 and 20 days, 3 months with solids incubated for 75 days, and negligible removal with solids incubated for 400 days. The loss of reactivity was not directly correlated to any one mineralogical variable but may be due to particle size or surface chemistry changes in the reactive Fe phase or to cell die-off and the accumulation of cell lysis products after consumption of the electron acceptor. The dramatic effect of incubation time on the rate of RDX removal highlights a potential limitation of studying complex systems, as we have here, in batch reactors and suggests that incubation time is an important variable to consider when measuring and comparing rates of contaminant reduction.

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