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Chemosphere. 2008 Jun;72(4):537-42. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.03.052. Epub 2008 May 9.

Citric acid-modified Fenton's reaction for the oxidation of chlorinated ethylenes in soil solution systems.

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Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, USA. <>


Fenton's reagent, a solution of hydrogen peroxide and ferrous iron catalyst, is used for an in situ chemical oxidation of organic contaminants. Sulfuric acid is commonly used to create an acidic condition needed for catalytic oxidation. Fenton's reaction often involves pressure buildup and precipitation of reaction products, which can cause safety hazards and diminish efficiency. We selected citric acid, a food-grade substance, as an acidifying agent to evaluate its efficiencies for organic contaminant removal in Fenton's reaction, and examined the impacts of using citric acid on the unwanted reaction products. A series of batch and column experiments were performed with varying H2O2 concentrations to decompose selected chlorinated ethylenes. Either dissolved iron from soil or iron sulfate salt was added to provide the iron catalyst in the batch tests. Batch experiments revealed that both citric and sulfuric acid systems achieved over 90% contaminant removal rates, and the presence of iron catalyst was essential for effective decontamination. Batch tests with citric acid showed no signs of pressure accumulation and solid precipitations, however the results suggested that an excessive usage of H2O2 relative to iron catalysts (Fe2+/H2O2<1/330) would result in lowering the efficiency of contaminant removal by iron chelation in the citric acid system. Column tests confirmed that citric acid could provide suitable acidic conditions to achieve higher than 55% contaminant removal rates.

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