Electrochimica Acta, Vol.181, 123-129, 2015
Influence of humic substances on electrochemical degradation of trichloroethylene in limestone aquifers
In this study we investigate the influence of humic substances (HS) on electrochemical transformation of trichloroethylene (TCE) in groundwater from limestone aquifers. A laboratory flow-through column with an electrochemical reactor that consists of a palladized iron foam cathode followed by a MMO anode was used to induce TCE electro-reduction in groundwater. Up to 82.9% TCE removal was achieved in the absence of HS. Presence of 1, 2, 5, and 10 mgTOC L-1 reduced TCE removal to 70.9%, 61.4%, 51.8% and 19.5%, respectively. The inverse correlation between HS content and TCE removal was linear. Total organic carbon (TOC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and absorption properties (A = 254 nm, 365 nm and 436 nm) normalized to DOC, were monitored during treatment to understand the behavior and impacts of HS under electrochemical processes. Changes in all parameters occurred mainly after contact with the cathode, which implies that the HS are reacting either directly with electrons from the cathode or with H-2 formed at the cathode surface. Since hydrodechlorination is the primary TCE reduction mechanism in this setup, reactions of the HS with the cathode limit transformation of TCE. The presence of limestone gravel reduced the impact of HS on TCE removal. The study concludes that presence of humic substances adversely affects TCE removal from contaminated groundwater by electrochemical reduction using palladized cathodes. Published by Elsevier Ltd.