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Environ Sci Technol. 2019 Apr 2;53(7):3707-3717. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b06499. Epub 2019 Mar 12.

Rapid Aerobic Inactivation and Facile Removal of Escherichia coli with Amorphous Zero-Valent Iron Microspheres: Indispensable Roles of Reactive Oxygen Species and Iron Corrosion Products.

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Key Laboratory of Pesticide & Chemical Biology of Ministry of Education, Institute of Environmental & Applied Chemistry, College of Chemistry , Central China Normal University , Wuhan 430079 , P. R. China.
Hubei Key Lab of Genetic Regulation and Integrative Biology, School of Life Sciences , Central China Normal University , Wuhan 430079 , P. R. China.


Zero valent iron (ZVI) is recently regarded as a promising alternative for water disinfection, but still suffers from low efficiency. Herein we demonstrate that amorphous zerovalent iron microspheres (A-mZVI) exhibit both higher inactivation rate and physical removal efficiency for the disinfection of Escherichia coli than conventional crystalline nanoscale ZVI (C-nZVI) under aerobic condition. The enhanced E. coli inactivation performance of A-mZVI was mainly attributed to more reactive oxygen species (ROSs), especially free •OH, generated by the accelerated iron dissolution and molecular oxygen activation in bulk solution. In contrast, C-nZVI preferred to produce surface bound •OH, and its bactericidal ability was thus hampered by the limited physical contact between C-nZVI and E. coli. More importantly, hydrolysis of dissolved iron released from A-mZVI produced plenty of loose FeOOH to wrap E. coli, increasing the dysfunction of E. coli membrane. Meanwhile, this hydrolysis process lowered the stability of E. coli colloid and caused its rapid coagulation and sedimentation, favoring its physical removal. These findings clarify the indispensable roles of ROSs and iron corrosion products during the ZVI disinfection, and also provide a promising disinfection material for water treatment.


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