A Robust Flow-Through Platform for Organic Contaminants Removal

Northeastern University Background
This technology aims to address the most significant issues associated with the Fenton process (a classical water treatment process). Fenton reagents, consisting of ferrous iron ion and hydrogen peroxide, are most reactive in acidic conditions. Therefore, in practical water treatment, a lot of acids are used to adjust the reaction solution from neutral to acidic. Moreover, the use of ferrous iron ion as a catalyst will produce iron sludge precipitate at the end of the reaction, which is a secondary pollutant for further treatment. Northeastern researchers aim to develop a Fenton-like process that bypasses the need for acid and generation of iron sludge precipitate and make this process more widely applicable to various conditions. The ultimate goal is to make the Fenton process greener and more cost-effective.
Technology Overview
Toxic organic compounds in water severely threaten drinking water safety and await effective pre‑treatment. In this invention, Hydroxyl radical is used, which is produced by the Fenton process (Fe2+/H2O2) because of its property of nonselectively destroy organic contaminants based on its strong oxidation potential. An upgraded reaction utilizing heterogeneous solid catalysts, called a Fenton-like process, has recently been adopted to overcome ferric sludge precipitation of Fenton process. However, most heterogeneous Fenton-like catalysts operate optimally at a pH value of 3-5, which makes creating acidity a challenge in near-neutral water bodies. This allows evaluating the feasibility of an electrolytically localized acid-compartment (referred to as Ella process) produced by electrochemical water splitting under the flow-through condition to facilitate the heterogeneous Fenton-like reaction.
The Ella process boosted the activity of an immobilized iron oxychloride catalyst by over tenfold in terms of hydroxyl radical yield, leading to near-100% destruction of various organic pollutants under high-throughput treatments. The performance in complex water bodies is robust.
Benefits

It can treat water contaminants in neutral solution
It does not generate iron sludge waste
Operating procedure is relatively simple
Cost‑effective

Applications

Advanced oxidation process in water treatment plants
Water decontamination and disinfection of most surface waters and groundwaters
Treatment of complex water bodies, such as industrial wastewater

Opportunity

License
Partnering
Research collaboration

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