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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

Front. Environ. Sci. Eng.    2020, Vol. 14 Issue (5) : 85
Recent advances in the electrochemical oxidation water treatment: Spotlight on byproduct control
Yang Yang()
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY 13699, USA
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• Byproduct formation mechanisms during electrochemical oxidation water treatment.

• Control byproduct formation by quenchers.

• Process optimization to suppress byproduct formation.

Electrochemical oxidation (EO) is a promising technique for decentralized wastewater treatment, owing to its modular design, high efficiency, and ease of automation and transportation. The catalytic destruction of recalcitrant, non-biodegradable pollutants (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), pharmaceuticals, and personal care products (PPCPs), pesticides, etc.) is an appropriate niche for EO. EO can be more effective than homogeneous advanced oxidation processes for the degradation of recalcitrant chemicals inert to radical-mediated oxidation, because the potential of the anode can be made much higher than that of hydroxyl radicals (EOH = 2.7 V vs. NHE), forcing the direct transfer of electrons from pollutants to electrodes. Unfortunately, at such high anodic potential, chloride ions, which are ubiquitous in natural water systems, will be readily oxidized to chlorine and perchlorate. Perchlorate is a to-be-regulated byproduct, and chlorine can react with matrix organics to produce organic halogen compounds. In the past ten years, novel electrode materials and processes have been developed. However, spotlights were rarely focused on the control of byproduct formation during EO processes in a real-world context. When we use EO techniques to eliminate target contaminants with concentrations at μg/L-levels, byproducts at mg/L-levels might be produced. Is it a good trade-off? Is it possible to inhibit byproduct formation without compromising the performance of EO? In this mini-review, we will summarize the recent advances and provide perspectives to address the above questions.

Keywords Electrochemical water treatment      Byproducts      Perchlorate     
This article is part of themed collection: Accounts of Aquatic Chemistry and Technology Research (Responsible Editors: Jinyong Liu, Haoran Wei & Yin Wang)
Corresponding Author(s): Yang Yang   
Issue Date: 30 June 2020
 Cite this article:   
Yang Yang. Recent advances in the electrochemical oxidation water treatment: Spotlight on byproduct control[J]. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng., 2020, 14(5): 85.
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Fig.1  Oxidation power of oxidants and direct electron transfer reactions characterized in the scale of redox potentials. The bottom frame shows the mechanism of indirect oxidation, in which target compounds react with reactive chlorine species (RCS) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated electrochemically. The top frame demonstrates the oxidation reactions based on the direct electron transfer mechanism.
Fig.2  (a) Classification and properties of active and non-active anodes. (b) Cyclic voltammetry analysis of electrodes in 30 mmol/L N2SO4 electrolyte. IrO2 and blue TiO2?x nanotube array (NTA) represent active and non-active electrodes, respectively. Data was collected from reference (Yang and Hoffmann, 2016).
Fig.3  Formation of trichloromethane and trichloroacetic acid in the chlorination of a) aliphatic carbohydrates and b) aromatic compounds (based on ref’s (Rook, 1977; Boyce and Hornig, 1983; Navalon et al., 2008; Bond et al., 2012)). Cleavage at sites A and B leads to the formation of trichloromethane (TCM) and dichloroacetic acid (DCAA), respectively.
Fig.4  Degradation of (a) PFOS (10 mg/L) and (b) benzoic acid (1 mmol/L), and (c) the formation of ClO4 during electrolysis in 15 mmol/L Na2SO4 + 3 mmol/L NaCl electrolytes in the presence or absence of H2O2 (50 mmol/L). BDD anode was coupled with stainless steel cathode and operated at 10 mA/cm2. Data was collected from reference (Yang et al., 2019a).
Fig.5  Transformation of Cl to chlorine radicals and free chlorine during EO treatment. The figure was modified from ref (Yang et al. 2016).
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