Activated carbon (AC) has a long history of applications in environmental technology as an adsorbent of pollutants for the purification of drinking waters and wastewaters. Here we describe novel role of AC as redox mediator in accelerating the reductive transformation of pollutants as well as a terminal electron acceptor in the biological oxidation of an organic substrate. This study explores the use of AC as an immobilized redox mediator for the reduction of a recalcitrant azo dye (hydrolyzed Reactive Red 2) in laboratory-scale anaerobic bioreactors, using volatile fatty acids as electron donor. The incorporation of AC in the sludge bed greatly improved dye removal and formation of aniline, a dye reduction product. These results indicate that AC acts as a redox mediator. In supporting batch experiments, bacteria were shown to oxidize acetate at the expense of reducing AC. Furthermore, AC greatly accelerated the chemical reduction of an azo dye by sulfide. The results taken as a whole clearly suggest that AC accepts electrons from the microbial oxidation of organic acids and transfers the electrons to azo dyes, accelerating their reduction. A possible role of quinone surface groups in the catalysis is discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry