American Chemical Society
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Water Flow-Driven Coupling Process of Anodic Oxygen Evolution and Cathodic Oxygen Activation for Water Decontamination and Prevention of Chlorinated Byproducts

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-03, 08:30 authored by Rui Wei, Shuzhao Pei, Yuan Yu, Jinna Zhang, Yanbiao Liu, Shijie You
Electrochemical advanced oxidation process (EAOP) is a promising technology for decentralized water decontamination but is subject to parasitic anodic oxygen evolution and formation of toxic chlorinated byproducts in the presence of Cl. To address this issue, we developed a novel electrolytic process by water flow-driven coupling of anodic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and cathodic molecular oxygen activation (MOA). When water flows from anode to cathode, O2 produced from OER is carried by water through convection, followed by being activated by atomic hydrogen (H*) on Pd cathode to produce OH. The water flow-driven OER/MOA process enables the anode to be polarized at low potential (1.7 V vs SHE) that is lower than that of conventional EAOP whose OH is produced from direct water oxidation (>2.3 V vs SHE). At a flow rate of 30 mL min–1, the process could achieve 94.8% removal of 2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP) and 71.5% removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD) within 45 min at an anode potential of 1.7 V vs SHE and cathode potential of −0.5 V vs SHE. To achieve the comparable 2,4-DCP removal performance, 4.3-fold higher energy consumption was needed for the conventional EAOP with titanium suboxide anode (anode potential of 2.9 V vs SHE), but current efficiency declined by 3.5 folds. Unlike conventional EAOP, chlorate and perchlorate were not detected in the OER/MOA process, because low anode potential <2.0 V vs SHE was thermodynamically unfavorable for the formation of chlorinated byproducts by anodic oxidation, indicated by theoretical calculations and experimental data. This study provides a proof-in-concept demonstration of water flow-driven OER/MOA process, representing a paradigm shift of electrochemical technology for water decontamination and prevention of chlorinated byproducts, making electrochemical water decontamination more efficient, more economic, and more sustainable.