CHROMIUM OXIDATION AND REDUCTION BY HYDROGEN PEROXIDE IN DIVERSE SOILS AND SIMPLE AQUEOUS SYSTEMS

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1999

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Abstract

Hydrogen peroxide is being tested for in situ remediation of buried contaminants - either as a direct chemical oxidant in Fenton-type reactions or as a source of oxidizing equivalents in bioremediation. How it affects a common co-contaminant, Cr, is explored here in four chemically diverse high-Cr soils. Soils contaminated with high levels of soluble Cr(VI) from ore processing and soils containing high levels of recently reduced Cr(III) from electroplating waste showed marked increases in chromate after single applications of J-25 mM peroxide. Cr(VI) in the leachates exceeded the drinking water standard (2μM) by 1-3 orders of magnitude. Soluble Cr(III), in the form of dissolved organic complexes, contributed to the likelihood of Cr(III) oxidation. Anaerobic soil conditions at a tannery site prevented oxidation of Cr(III). Naturally occurring Cr in serpentine soil also resisted oxidation. Ambient soluble Cr(VI) in a contaminated aquifer disappeared from peroxide leachates below pH 5, then reappeared as peroxide levels declined. In solutions prepared under environmentally relevant conditions, aged 280 μM Cr(III) treated with 100 μM H2O2 showed increases in Cr(VI) over weeks with maximum oxidation rates achieved in solutions prepared with 2:1 and 4:1 OH^-:Cr. Although Cr(III) speciation differs in fresh and aged aqueous systems, a similar mechanism involving the pre-equilibrium step: Cr(OH)/ + OH- .,. Cr(OH)/ may account for Cr(III) oxidation in both systems. Under alkaline conditions, H2O2 enhanced the oxidative dissolution of Crn(OH)3n^0. The formation of peroxochromium compounds in the presence of H2O2 and Cr(VI) may account for the disappearance and reappearance of Cr(VI) in H2O2 treated soils; as does the possible formation and subsequent reoxidation of Crm(OH)3n-2^2+ oligomers. Mobilization of hazardous Cr(VI) must be considered in plans to use H2O2 for remediation of chemically complex wastes. Once Cr(III) is oxidized to Cr(VI) by H2O2 it may persist long after applied H2O2 treatments have disappeared. Further, hexavalent Cr will behave as a catalyst toward H20 2 in soils, enhancing its oxidative capacity while helping to dissipate high levels of applied H2O2.

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