Ferrioxalate-mediated photodegradation and mineralization of 4-chlorophenol

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2003;10(1):33-8. doi: 10.1065/espr2002.10.134.


Intention, goal, scope, background: Advanced oxidation processes are powerful methods which are capable of transforming refractory, nonbiodegradable and/or toxic organic compounds into harmless end products such as carbon dioxide and water. However, one commen problem of all advanced oxidation processes is the high demand of electrical energy for ultraviolet lamps, which causes high operational costs. Minimization of the required irradiation time, and therefore the energy consumption, by optimization of other reaction conditions such as catalyst-oxidant type and concentration, pH, temperature, pollutant/oxidant ratio etc., therefore continues to gain importance.

Objective: The main objective of this study was the minimization of the required irradiation time through optimization of the use of a newly patented catalyst, ferrioxalate, and also to compare the performance of this catalyst with the performance of other AOPs.

Methods: Oxidation of 4-chlorophenol by photo-Fenton process using potassium ferrioxalate as a mediator was studied in a lab scale photoreactor. The influence of parameters such as hydrogen peroxide and ferrioxalate concentrations, initial pH, power-output, oxalate/iron ratio and different iron sources was evaluated. An upflow photoreactor equipped with a 1000 Watt high-pressure mercury vapour lamp and operating in a recirculation mode was used during photodegradation experiments. The extent of the reduction of 4-chlorophenol, Total Organic Carbon and Chemical Oxygen Demand was used to evaluate the photodegradation reaction.

Results and discussion: The optimum pH range observed was found to be 2.7-3. The efficiency of 4-chlorophenol oxidation increased with increasing concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and ferrioxalate, reaching a plateau after the addition of 10 and 0.072 mM of those reagents, respectively. Using an Oxalate/iron ratio of 12 was 18% less efficient than using a ratio of 3:1. The efficiency increased with increasing radiation power. However, this increase was not linear. The UV/ferrioxalate/H2O2 process, by which complete mineralization of 100 mg l(-1) 4-chlorophenol was achieved in 20 min of total reaction time, was the most efficient process among the alternatives applied.

Conclusions: The use of ferrioxalate as the catalyst was found to be more efficient than the use of Fe(II) and Fe(III) iron species. It was possible to completely mineralize 4-chlorophenol.

Recommendation and outlook: The results of this study demonstrate that the ferrioxalate-mediated degradation of 4-chlorophenol requires less irradiation times than other advanced oxidation processes. There are mainly 19 phenol isomers and other toxic and nonbiodegradable organic compounds. We recommend that similar studies should be performed on many such compounds in order to attain a clear understanding of the performance of this catalyst. Because of its light sensitivity, this catalyst should be used immediately after its preparation. The use of low pressure mercury vapour lamps in this process should also be considered, since low power outputs may be enough for the process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophenols / chemistry*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Oxalates / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Photochemistry
  • Root Canal Irrigants / chemistry*


  • Chlorophenols
  • Oxalates
  • Root Canal Irrigants
  • ferrioxalate
  • 4-chlorophenol