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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

Front. Environ. Sci. Eng.    2020, Vol. 14 Issue (5) : 88     https://doi.org/10.1007/s11783-020-1267-4
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Hexavalent chromium in drinking water: Chemistry, challenges and future outlook on Sn(II)- and photocatalyst-based treatment
Haizhou Liu(), Xuejun Yu
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
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Abstract

• Wide occurrence of Cr(VI) in US source drinking water.

• A strong dependence of occurrence on groundwater sources.

• Elucidate Redox and equilibrium chemistry of Cr(VI).

• Sn(II)-based and TiO2-based reductive treatments hold extreme promise.

• Key challenges include residual waste, Cr(VI) re-generation and socioeconomic drivers.

Chromium (Cr) typically exists in either trivalent and hexavalent oxidation states in drinking water, i.e., Cr(III) and Cr(VI), with Cr(VI) of particular concern in recent years due to its high toxicity and new regulatory standards. This Account presented a critical analysis of the sources and occurrence of Cr(VI) in drinking water in the United States, analyzed the equilibrium chemistry of Cr(VI) species, summarized important redox reaction relevant to the fate of Cr(VI) in drinking water, and critically reviewed emerging Cr(VI) treatment technologies. There is a wide occurrence of Cr(VI) in US source drinking water, with a strong dependence on groundwater sources, mainly due to naturally weathering of chromium-containing aquifers. Challenges regarding traditional Cr(VI) treatment include chemical cost, generation of secondary waste and inadvertent re-generation of Cr(VI) after treatment. To overcome these challenges, reductive Cr(VI) treatment technologies based on the application of stannous tin or electron-releasing titanium dioxide photocatalyst hold extreme promise in the future. To moving forward in the right direction, three key questions need further exploration for the technology implementation, including effective management of residual waste, minimizing the risks of Cr(VI) re-occurrence downstream of drinking water treatment plant, and promote the socioeconomic drivers for Cr(VI) control in the future.

Keywords Chromium      Chemistry      Treatment      Future outlook     
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): Haizhou Liu   
Issue Date: 19 August 2020
 Cite this article:   
Haizhou Liu,Xuejun Yu. Hexavalent chromium in drinking water: Chemistry, challenges and future outlook on Sn(II)- and photocatalyst-based treatment[J]. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng., 2020, 14(5): 88.
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http://journal.hep.com.cn/fese/EN/10.1007/s11783-020-1267-4
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fese/EN/Y2020/V14/I5/88
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Fig.1  Distributions of Cr(VI) concentrations in source drinking water and at the exit point of the drinking water distribution systems in the United States. This analysis is based on data from 4,583 water utilities and 22,734 drinking water samples in the USPEA UCMR3 database. (A) Cr(VI) distribution at the entry point to the water distribution systems based on 22,734 detections. (B) Cr(VI) distribution at the maximum residence time of the exist to the distribution systems based on 4583 public water utilities.
Fig.2  Speciation of hexavalent chromium as a function of drinking water pH. The total Cr(VI) level is modeled at 100 µg/L, i.e., the US EPA drinking water maximum contaminant level for total chromium. T = 25°C.
Fig.3  Redox potentials of different redox couples in typical drinking water chemical conditions. The calculation is based on the following condition: [HOCl] = 1 mg/L as Cl2; [Cl] = 3.5 mg/L; [CrO42–] = 100 µg/L; [Fe2+] = 2 mg/L; [Sn2+] = 0.5 mg/L, pH= 7, T = 25°C. The actual redox potentials are calculated based on the standard redox potential values obtained from Benjamin, 2004.
Fig.4  Promising treatment technologies for hexavalent chromium in drinking water. (A) A schematic illustration of Sn(II)-based reductive treatment for hexavalent chromium in drinking water. (B) The molecular structure of a DEG-capped TiO2 catalyst.
Fig.5  (A) Reaction mechanism for photocatalytic reduction of Cr(VI) in aqueous suspension of TiO2 nanocrystals. (B) The molecular structure of a diethylene glycol (DEG)-capped TiO2 catalyst.
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