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    Heterogeneous iron species at the mineral/water interface are important catalysts for the generation of reactive oxygen species at circumneutral pH. One significant pathway leading to the formation of such species arises from deposition of dissolved iron onto mineral colloids due to changes in redox conditions. This study investigates the catalytic properties of Fe impregnated on silica, alumina, and titania nanoparticles (as prototypical mineral colloids). Fe impregnation was carried out by immersing the mineral nanoparticles in dilute Fe(II) or Fe(III) solutions at pH 6 and 3, respectively, in an aerobic environment. The uptake of iron per unit surface area follows the order of nTiO2 > nAl2O3 > nSiO2 for both types of Fe precursors. Impregnation of mineral particles in Fe(II) solutions results in predominantly Fe(III) species due to efficient surface-mediated oxidation. The catalytic activity of the impregnated solids to produce hydroxyl radical (·OH) from H2O2 decomposition was evaluated using benzoic acid as a probe compound under dark conditions. Invariably, the rates of benzoic acid oxidation with different Fe-laden particles increase with the surface density of Fe until a critical density above which the catalytic activity approaches a plateau, suggesting active Fe species are formed predominantly at low surface loadings. The critical surface density of Fe varies with the mineral substrate as well as the aqueous Fe precursor. Fe impregnated on TiO2 exhibits markedly higher activity than its Al2O3 and SiO2 counterparts. The speciation of interfacial Fe is analyzed with diffuse reflectance UV-vis analysis and interpretation of the data in the context of benzoic oxidation rates suggests that the surface activity of the solids for ·OH generation correlates strongly with the isolated (i.e., mononuclear) Fe species. Therefore, iron dispersed on mineral colloids is a significant form of reactive iron surfaces in the aquatic environment.


    Yue Li, Libor Machala, Weile Yan. Fe-Impregnated Mineral Colloids for Peroxide Activation: Effects of Mineral Substrate and Fe Precursor. Environmental science & technology. 2016 Feb 2;50(3):1190-9

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    PMID: 26713453

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