Regulation of electrochemically generated ferrous ions from an iron cathode for Pd-catalytic transformation of MTBE in groundwater

Peng Liao, Songhu Yuan, Mingjie Chen, Man Tong, Wenjing Xie, Peng Zhang

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26 Citations (Scopus)


A novel Pd-based electro-Fenton (E-Fenton) process has recently been developed to transform organic contaminants in groundwater. However, it only produces H2O2 and requires addition of Fe2+. In this study, an innovative approach is developed to effectively regulate the generation of Fe2+ from an iron cathode in a three-electrode system in addition to H2O2 production. The Fe2+ is then used for the Pd-catalytic transformation of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) in groundwater. Results from batch experiments suggest Fe2+ accumulation follows pseudo-first-order kinetics with rate quantitatively regulated by current and pH, and MTBE can be completely transformed. In a specially configured three-electrode column using iron as the first cathode, the localized acidic conditions develop automatically in the iron cathode and Pd zone by partitioning the current between the two cathodes, leading to controllable generation of Fe2+ and H2O2. Effects of electrolyte concentrations and types as well as humic acid on MTBE transformation are slight. The stable transformation (∼70%) in a long-term study (20 days) suggests this improved Pd-based E-Fenton process is sustainable to produce Fe2+, H2O2, and appropriate pH conditions simultaneously for transforming organic contaminants. This study presents a new concept of generating Fe2+ from an iron cathode for the processes requiring Fe2+.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7918-7926
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 16 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Medicine(all)

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