Iron oxide nanoparticle synthesis in aqueous and membrane systems for oxidative degradation of trichloroethylene from water

Minghui Gui, Vasile Smuleac, Lindell E. Ormsbee, David L. Sedlak, Dibakar Bhattacharyya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The potential for using hydroxyl radical (OḢ) reactions catalyzed by iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs) to remediate toxic organic compounds was investigated. Iron oxide NPs were synthesized by controlled oxidation of iron NPs prior to their use for contaminant oxidation (by H2O2 addition) at nearneutral pH values. Cross-linked polyacrylic acid (PAA) functionalized polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) microfiltration membranes were prepared by in situ polymerization of acrylic acid inside the membrane pores. Iron and iron oxide NPs (80-100 nm) were directly synthesized in the polymer matrix of PAA/ PVDF membranes, which prevented the agglomeration of particles and controlled the particle size. The conversion of iron to iron oxide in aqueous solution with air oxidation was studied based on X-ray diffraction, Mössbauer spectroscopy and BET surface area test methods. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was selected as the model contaminant because of its environmental importance. Degradations of TCE and H 2O2 by NP surface generated OḢ were investigated. Depending on the ratio of iron and H2O2, TCE conversions as high as 100 % (with about 91 % dechlorination) were obtained. TCE dechlorination was also achieved in real groundwater samples with the reactive membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number861
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by a joint National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) SRP Supplement grant between University of Kentucky (UK) and University of California at Berkeley, UK-NIEHS-SRP program and by the US Department of Energy (DOE) KRCEE programs (DE-FG05-03OR23032). We thank Dr. Frank E. Huggins from Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at UK for Mössbauer spectroscopy analytical support.


  • Functionalized membrane
  • Heterogeneous Fenton
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hydroxyl radical
  • Iron oxide nanoparticles
  • TCE dechlorination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Modeling and Simulation


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