Radical Generation by the Interaction of Transition Metals with Common Oxidants

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Cincinnati, 765 Baldwin Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0071
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2004, 38, 13, 3705–3712
Publication Date (Web):May 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 American Chemical Society
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Nine transition metals were tested for the activation of three oxidants and the generation of inorganic radical species such as sulfate, peroxymonosulfate, and hydroxyl radicals. From the 27 combinations, 14 M/Ox couples demonstrated significant reactivity toward transforming a model organic substrate such as 2,4-dichlorophenol and are further discussed here. It was found that Co(II) and Ru(III) are the best metal catalysts for the activation of peroxymonosulfate. As expected on the basis of the Fenton reagent, Fe(III) and Fe(II) were the most efficient transition metals for the activation of hydrogen peroxide. Finally, Ag(I) showed the best results toward activating persulfate. Quenching studies with specific alcohols (tert-butyl alcohol and ethanol) were also performed to identify the primary radical species formed from the reactive M/Ox interactions. The determination of these transient species allowed us to postulate the rate-determining step of the redox reactions taking place when a metal is coupled with an oxidant in aqueous solution. It was found that when Co(II), Ru(III), and Fe(II) interact with peroxymonosulfate, freely diffusible sulfate radicals are the primary species formed. The same was proven for the interaction of Ag(I) with persulfate, but in this case caged or bound to the metal sulfate radicals might be formed as well. The conjunction of Ce(III), Mn(II), and Ni(II) with peroxymonosulfate showed also to generate caged or bound to the metal sulfate radicals. A combination of sulfate and hydroxyl radicals was formed from the conjunction of V(III) with peroxymonosulfate and from Fe(II) with persulfate. Finally, the conjunction of Fe(III), Fe(II), and Ru(III) with hydrogen peroxide led primarily to the generation of hydroxyl radicals. It is also suggested here that the redox behavior of a particular metal in solution cannot be predicted based exclusively on its size and charge. Additional phenomena such as metal hydrolysis as well as complexation with other counterions present in solution might affect the thermodynamics of the overall process and are further discussed here.


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