American Chemical Society
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Role of Quinone Intermediates as Electron Shuttles in Fenton and Photoassisted Fenton Oxidations of Aromatic Compounds

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journal contribution
posted on 1997-07-30, 00:00 authored by Ruzhong Chen, Joseph J. Pignatello
Fenton and related reactions are potentially useful oxidation processes for destroying toxic organic compounds in water. In these reactions, H2O2 is combined with Fe(II) or Fe(III) in the presence or absence of light to generate hydroxyl radicals (HO). A relatively neglected area of research is the influence of organic species on the reactivity of iron, and hence on the rate or course of the reaction. This study examined the oxidation of phenol (2 mM) by Fenton systems in the dark (Fe3+/H2O2, Fe2+/H2O2, and mixed Fe3+/Fe2+/H2O2 systems) and under UV/visible light (Fe3+/H2O2/hν). Reactions were conducted at an initial pH of 2.8, with H2O2 in excess and iron in catalytic concentrations. In all cases, the reactions display autocatalysis. In dark reactions, the lag phase decreases (a) with increasing total iron concentration, [Fe]T; (b) as initial [Fe2+] increases when [Fe]T is held constant; (c) in proportion to the amount of hydroquinone (1,4- or 1,2-) added; and (d) in proportion to the amount of quinones (1,4-benzoquinone or 5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone [juglone]) added. The hydroquinones reduce Fe3+ to Fe2+. An important result is the finding that quinones serve as electron-transfer catalysts between dihydroxycyclohexadienyl radicalthe HO adduct of phenoland Fe3+ by way of a semiquinone radical. This conclusion is supported by simulations with a kinetic model employing known and proposed steps. In irradiated solutions, the lag phase decreases with decreasing wavelength (480−300 nm; 10 nm band-pass). A cause of light initiation, especially above ∼410 nm where photolysis of Fe3+ and/or H2O2 is negligible, is direct photolysis of quinones to HO and semiquinone radicals, which subsequently reduce Fe3+ and re-form the quinone. Thus, quinones play an important catalytic role in Fenton oxidation of aromatic compounds.