Kinetics of Zero Valent Iron Nanoparticle Oxidation in Oxygenated Water

Zero valent iron (ZVI) nanoparticles are versatile in their ability to remove a wide variety of water contaminants, and ZVI-based bimetallic nanoparticles show increased reactivity above that of ZVI alone. ZVI nanoparticles degrade contaminants through the reactive species (e.g., OH*, H2(g), H2O2) that are produced during iron oxidation. Measurement and modeling of aqueous ZVI nanoparticle oxidation kinetics are therefore necessary to optimize nanoparticle design. Stabilized ZVI and iron–nickel nanoparticles of approximately 150 nm in diameter were synthesized through solution chemistry, and nanoparticle oxidation kinetics were determined via measured mass change using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). Under flowing aerated water, ZVI nanoparticles had an initial exponential growth behavior indicating surface-dominated oxidation controlled by migration of species (H2O and O2) to the surface. A region of logarithmic growth followed the exponential growth which, based on the Mott-Cabrera model of thin oxide film growth, suggests a reaction dominated by movement of species (e.g., iron cations and oxygen anions) through the oxide layer. The presence of ethanol or a nickel shell on the ZVI nanoparticles delayed the onset of iron oxidation and reduced the extent of oxidation. In oxygenated water, ZVI nanoparticles oxidized primarily to the iron oxide-hydroxide lepidocrocite.