IJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 6299: Performance and Mechanisms of Sulfidated Nanoscale Zero-Valent Iron Materials for Toxic TCE Removal from the Groundwater (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is one of the most widely distributed pollutants in groundwater and poses serious risks to the environment and human health. In this study, sulfidated nanoscale zero-valent iron (S-nZVI) materials with different Fe/S molar ratios were synthesized by one-step methods. These materials degraded TCE in groundwater and followed a pathway that did not involve the production of toxic byproducts such as dichloroethenes (DCEs) and vinyl chloride (VC). The effects of sulfur content on TCE dechlorination by S-nZVI were thoroughly investigated in terms of TCE-removal efficiency, H2 evolution, and reaction rate. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) characterizations confirmed Fe(0) levels in S-nZVI were larger than for zero-valent iron (nZVI). An Fe/S molar ratio of 10 provided the highest TCE-removal efficiencies. Compared with nZVI, the 24-h TCE removal efficiencies of S-nZVI (Fe/S = 10) increased from 30.2% to 92.6%, and the Fe(0) consumed during a side-reaction of H2 evolution dropped from 77.0% to 12.8%. This indicated the incorporation of sulfur effectively inhibited H2 evolution and allowed more Fe(0) to react with TCE. Moreover, the pseudo-first-order kinetic rate constants of S-nZVI materials increased by up to 485% compared to nZVI. In addition, a TCE degradation was proposed based on the variation of detected degradation products. Noting that acetylene, ethylene, and ethane were detected rather than DCEs and VC confirmed that TCE degradation followed β-elimination with acetylene as the intermediate. These results demonstrated that sulfide modification significantly enhanced nZVI performance for TCE degradation, minimized toxic-byproduct formation, and mitigated health risks. This work provides some insight into the remediation of chlorinated-organic-compound-contaminated groundwater and protection from secondary pollution during remediation by adjusting the degradation pathway.