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Reductive Dehalogenation of Trichloroethylene Using Aerosol-Assisted Fe/silica Nanoparticles

Gerhard Piringer, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, Jingjing Zhan, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, Yunfeng Lu, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, Vijay T. John, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Tulane University, 300 Lindy Boggs Bldg., New Orleans, LA 70118, and Gary L. McPherson, Tulane University, Department of Chemistry, New Orleans, LA 70118.

Nanoscale zero-valent iron (ZVI) particles are a preferred option for the reductive dehalogenation of trichloroethylene (TCE). However, it is difficult to transport these particles to the source of contamination due to aggregation. This study describes a novel approach to the preparation of ZVI nanoparticles that are efficient and effectively transported to contaminant sites. We describe the synthesis of silica-supported iron nanoparticles using aerosol technology. While the encapsulated iron nanoparticles are reactive for trichloroethylene remediation, environmentally benign silica particles serve as effective carriers for nanoiron transport. Aerosol silica particles with functional groups such as ethyl tails on the surface preferentially adsorb hydrophobic TCE during environmental remediation. This increases the local concentration of TCE in the vicinity of iron nanoparticles, thus promoting the degradation of TCE by iron. These iron/silica aerosol particles with controlled surface properties have the potential to be efficiently applied for in situ remediation and permeable reactive barriers construction.