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RSI Research Seminar

Monday, February 6, 2023
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Jorgensen 109
Circumneutral Electrosynthesis of Ferrate(IV/V/VI) Oxidants for Decentralized Water Treatment Applications
Yi (Sam) Zhang, Graduate Student, Environmental Science and Engineering,

Join us every other Monday at noon for lunch and a 30-minute research talk, presented by Resnick Sustainability Institute Graduate Fellows and Caltech researchers funded by the Resnick Sustainability Institute. To see the full schedule of speakers, visit the RSI Research Seminar web page. Seminars currently take place in a hybrid format, both in-person (Jorgensen building first-floor conference room) and via Zoom. For more information and to get the Zoom login info, please reach out to [email protected]

Circumneutral Electrosynthesis of Ferrate(IV/V/VI) Oxidants for Decentralized Water Treatment Applications

Difficulties arise related to the economy-of-scale and practicability in applying conventional water treatment technologies to small and remote systems. A promising oxidation technology better suited for these applications is that of electro-oxidation (EO), whereby contaminants are degraded via direct, advanced and/or electrosynthesized oxidant mediated reactions. One species of oxidants of particular interest are ferrates (Fe(VI)/(V)/(IV)), where only recently has their circumneutral synthesis been demonstrated, using high oxygen overpotential (HOP) electrodes, namely boron-doped diamond (BDD). In this study, the generation of ferrates using various HOP electrodes (BDD, NAT/Ni-Sb-SnO2 and AT/Sb-SnO2) was investigated. Ferrate synthesis was pursued in a current density range of 5-15 mA cm-2 and initial Fe3+ concentrations of 10-15 mM. Faradaic efficiencies ranged 11-23 %, depending on operating conditions, with BDD and NAT significantly outperforming AT electrodes. Speciation tests revealed that NAT synthesizes both ferrate(IV/V) and ferrate(VI), while the BDD and AT electrodes synthesized only ferrate(IV/V) species. A number of organic scavenger probes were used to test the relative reactivity, including nitrobenzene, carbamazepine and fluconazole, whereby ferrate(IV/V) was significantly more oxidative than ferrate(VI). Finally, the ferrate(VI) synthesis mechanism by NAT electrolysis was elucidated, where co-production of ozone was found to be a key phenomenon for Fe3+ oxidation to ferrate(VI).