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Accelerated Fe2+ Regeneration in an Effective Electro-Fenton Process by Boosting Internal Electron Transfer to a Nitrogen-Conjugated Fe(III) Complex

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journal contribution
posted on 22.02.2021, 16:35 by Mingyue Liu, Zhiyuan Feng, Xinmiao Luan, Wenhai Chu, Hongying Zhao, Guohua Zhao
The regeneration rate of Fe2+ from Fe3+ dictates the performance of the electro-Fenton (EF) process, represented by the amount of produced hydroxyl radicals (·OH). Current strategies for the acceleration of Fe2+ regeneration normally require additional chemical reagents, to vary the redox potential of Fe2+/Fe3+. Here, we report an attempt at using the intrinsic property of the electrode to our advantage, i.e., nitrogen-doped carbon aerogel (NDCA), as a reducing agent for the regeneration of Fe2+ without using foreign reagents. Moreover, the pyrrolic N in NDCA provides unpaired electrons through the carbon framework to reduce Fe3+, while the graphitic and pyridinic N coordinate with Fe3+ to form a C–O–Fe–N2 bond, facilitating electron transfer from both the external circuit and pyrrolic N to Fe3+. Our Fe2+/NDCA-EF system exhibits a 5.8 ± 0.3 times higher performance, in terms of the amount of generated ·OH, than a traditional Fenton system using the same Fe2+ concentration. In the subsequent reaction, the Fe2+/NDCA-EF system demonstrates 100.0% removal of dimethyl phthalate, 3-chlorophenol, bisphenol A, and sulfamethoxazole with a low specific energy consumption of 0.17–0.36 kW·h·g–1. Furthermore, 90.1 ± 0.6% removal of dissolved organic carbon and 83.3 ± 0.9% removal of NH3-N are achieved in the treatment of domestic sewage. The purpose of this work is to present a novel strategy for the regeneration of Fe2+ in the EF process and also to elucidate the role of different N species of the carbonaceous electrode in contributing to the redox cycle of Fe2+/Fe3+.