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Environ Technol. 2019 Apr;40(10):1298-1305. doi: 10.1080/09593330.2017.1420699. Epub 2018 Jan 9.

Application of Fenton process to remove organic matter and PCBs from waste (fuller's earth) contaminated with insulating oil.

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a Physics and Chemistry Institute , Itajubá Federal University (UNIFEI) , Itajubá , Minas Gerais , Brazil.
b Sul de Minas Gerais Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology (IF-Sul de Minas) , Inconfidentes , Minas Gerais , Brazil.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are carcinogenic to humans and can be found in fuller's earth used for the treatment of used transformer oil. This work describes an optimization of the Fenton process for the removal of contaminants from fuller's earth. The effects of pH (2.5 and 4.0), [H2O2] (1.47 and 2.07 mol L-1), and [Fe2+] (1.7 and 40 mmol L-1) were studied. The Fenton process efficiency was monitored using the decreases in the chemical oxygen demand (COD) and the concentrations of oil and grease, total carbon (TC), PCBs, and H2O2. The fuller's earth contaminated with insulating oil presented 35% (w/w) of TC, 34% (w/w) of oil and grease, 297.0 g L-1 COD, and 64 mg of PCBs per kg. The material could therefore be considered a dangerous waste. After Fenton treatment, using a slurry mode, there was a removal of 55% of COD, 20% of oil and grease, and 20% of TC, achieved at pH 2.5 using 2.07 mol L-1 of H2O2 and 40.0 mmol L-1 of Fe2+. No PCBs were detected in the samples after the Fenton treatment, even using smaller amounts of Fenton reagents (1.47 mol L-1 of H2O2, 1.7 mmol L-1 of Fe2+, pH 2.5). The results indicated that the treated fuller's earth was free from PCB residues and could be disposed of in a simple landfill, in accordance with Brazilian PCB regulations.


Fenton reaction; Fuller’s earth; PCBs; factorial experimental design; insulating mineral oil

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