Electrochemical Incineration of 4-Chlorophenol and the Identification of Products and Intermediates by Mass Spectrometry

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Ames Laboratory-U.S. Department of Energy, Microanalytical Instrumentation Center, Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 1999, 33, 15, 2638–2644
Publication Date (Web):June 23, 1999
Copyright © 1999 American Chemical Society
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This report summarizes results obtained as part of a larger effort to demonstrate the applicability of electrolytic procedures for the direct anodic (oxidative) degradation of toxic organic wastes. We refer to this process as “electrochemical incineration” (ECI) because the ultimate degradation products, e.g., carbon dioxide, are equivalent to those achieved by thermal incineration processes. In this work, the ECI of 4-chlorophenol is achieved in an aqueous medium using a platinum anode coated with a quaternary metal oxide film containing Ti, Ru, Sn, and Sb oxides. The electrode is stable and active when used with a solid Nafion membrane without the addition of soluble supporting electrolyte. Liquid chromatography (LC), including reverse phase and ion exchange chromatography, is coupled with electrospray mass spectrometry (ES-MS) and used, along with gas chromatography−mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and measurements of pH, chemical oxygen demand (COD), and total organic carbon (TOC), to study the reaction and identify the intermediate products from the ECI of 4-chlorophenol. Twenty-six intermediate products are identified and reported. The most abundant of these products are benzoquinone, 4-chlorocatechol, maleic acid, succinic acid, malonic acid, and the inorganic anions chloride, chlorate, and perchlorate. After 24 h of ECI, a solution that initially contained 108 ppm 4-chlorophenol yields only 1 ppm TOC with 98% of the original chlorine remaining in the specified inorganic forms. LC-ES-MS and direct infusion ES-MS detection limits are between 80 ppb and 4 ppm for these intermediate products. Elemental analysis of the electrolyzed solutions by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry ICP-MS showed that only trace amounts (<25 ppb) of the metallic elements comprising the metal oxide film were present in the solution.

 Present address:  Department of Chemistry, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, WV 26201.


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