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Title: Optimizing Metalloporphyrin-Catalyzed Reduction Reactions for In Situ Remediation of DOE Contaminants

Past activities have resulted in a legacy of contaminated soil and groundwater at Department of Energy facilities nationwide. Uranium and chromium are among the most frequently encountered and highest-priority metal and radionuclide contaminants at DOE installations. Abiotic chemical reduction of uranium and chromium at contaminated DOE sites can be beneficial because the reduced metal species are less soluble in water, less mobile in the environment, and less toxic to humans and ecosystems. Although direct biological reduction has been reported for U(VI) and Cr(VI) in laboratory studies and at some field sites, the reactions can sometimes be slow or even inhibited due to unfavorable environmental conditions. One promising approach for the in-situ remediation of DOE contaminants is to develop electron shuttle catalysts that can be delivered precisely to the specific subsurface locations where contaminants reside. Previous research has shown that reduction of oxidized organic and inorganic contaminants often can be catalyzed by electron shuttle systems. Metalloporphyrins and their derivatives are well known electron shuttles for many biogeochemical systems, and thus were selected to study their catalytic capabilities for the reduction of chromium and uranium in the presence of reducing agents. Zero valent iron (ZVI) was chosen as the primary electron donormore » in most experimental systems. Research proceeded in three phases and the key findings of each phase are reported here. Phase I examined Cr(VI) reduction and utilized micro- and nano-sized ZVI as the electron donors. Electron shuttle catalysts tested were cobalt- and iron-containing metalloporphyrins and Vitamin B12. To aid in the recycle and reuse of the nano-sized ZVI and soluble catalysts, sol-gels and calcium-alginate gel beads were tested as immobilization/support matrices. Although the nano-sized ZVI could be incorporated within the alginate gel beads, preliminary attempts to trap it in sol-gels were not successful. Conversely, the water-soluble catalysts could be trapped within sol-gel matrices but they tended to leach out of the alginate gel beads during use. In general, immobilization of the nano-sized ZVI in gel beads and of the catalysts in sol-gels tended to result in slower rates of Cr(VI) reduction, but these effects could be overcome to some extent by using higher reactant/catalyst concentrations. In addition, the lowering of their effectiveness would likely be offset by the benefits obtained when recycling and reusing the materials because they were immobilized. Addition of the catalytic electron shuttles will be most useful when the micro-sized or nano-sized ZVI becomes less reactive with reaction time. Continued work in Phase II in the area of nano-sized ZVI immobilization led to procedures that were successful in incorporating the iron particles in sol-gel matrices. The water-soluble reductants sodium dithionite and L-ascorbic acid were also tested, but their use appeared to lead to formation of complexes with the uranyl cation which limited their effectiveness. Also, although the sol-gel supported nano-sized ZVI showed some promise at reducing uranium, the fluoride used in the sol-gel synthesis protocol appeared to lead to formation of uranyl-fluoride complexes that were less reactive. Because hexavalent chromium is an anion which does not form complexes with fluoride, it was used to demonstrate the intrinsic reactivity of the sol-gel immobilized nano-sized ZVI. Consistent with our observations in Phase I, the sol-gel matrix once again slowed down the reduction reaction but the expected benefits of recycle/reuse should outweigh this adverse effect. The major emphasis in Phase III of this study was to simultaneously incorporate nano-sized ZVI and water-soluble catalysts in the same sol-gel matrix. The catalysts utilized were cobalt complexes of uroporphyrin and protoporphyrin and Cr(VI) reduction was used to test the efficacy of the combined "catalyst + reductant" sol-gel matrix. When enough catalyst was added to the sol-gels, enhancement of the Cr(VI) reduction reaction was observed. At the lowest levels of catalyst addition, however, the rates of Cr(VI) reduction were similar to those systems which only used sol-gel immobilized nano-sized ZVI without any catalyst present. These findings suggest future areas of research that should be pursued to further optimize abiotic reduction reactions of metals with combined "catalyst + reductant" matrices.« less
  1. Clemson University, Clemson, SC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: US1300345
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Clemson University, Clemson, SC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States