Electro-Fenton treatment of imidazolium-based ionic liquids: kinetics and degradation pathways
In this study, the removal of five imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) from water was accomplished by a heterogeneous electro-Fenton treatment. Different ILs were selected in order to study the effect of the alkyl chain length and the nature of the anion. Initially, the effect of the catalyst (iron alginate beads) dosage and current were evaluated. The results showed that the optimum conditions were attained when operating with 4.27 g of catalyst and 0.3 A, achieving degradation yields and TOC reductions higher than 95% after 90 min and 80% after 480 min, respectively. Regarding the ILs with common cations, lower degradation rates were obtained for those with longer alkyl chains, thus 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide, exhibits faster degradation than 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide. In addition, the influence of the counter anions on the oxidation rate of different ILs under an electro-Fenton treatment was demonstrated, following the order: methylsulfate > dicyanamide > acetate. The Microtox ecotoxicity tests of the initial and treated samples revealed that none of the three studied ILs with shorter alkyl chain lengths showed toxicity and only 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide presented toxic levels, with EC50 values of 269.85 and 47.55 mg L−1, respectively. Nonetheless, after 480 min of heterogeneous electro-Fenton treatment at 0.3 A, the toxicity of both was completely reduced. Finally, to confirm the mineralization of these compounds, the identification of several reaction intermediates in the heterogeneous electro-Fenton treatment of three ILs was assayed and a plausible degradation pathway was proposed.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Ionic Liquids: Editors collection for RSC Advances