Nickel has been found to be an effective cathode material and catalyst for reductive destruction of chlorinated solvents in contaminated water. This study investigated reductive dechlorination of carbon tetrachloride (CT) at a nickel rotating disk electrode using chronoamperometry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Chronoamperometry experiments were performed to determine rates of CT reduction as a function of the electrode potential, pH, CT concentration, and temperature. The reaction products of CT dechlorination were 95 ± 4% methane and 4.1 ± 2.5% chloroform. Only trace levels of methylene chloride and chloromethane were produced, indicating that sequential hydrogenolysis was not the predominant pathway for methane production. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy showed that the rate-limiting step for methane production was the transfer of the first electron to a physically adsorbed CT molecule. The temperature independence of the electron transfer coefficient and the decreasing activation energy with decreasing electrode potential indicated that the rate-limiting step involved an outer-sphere electron transfer. At neutral pH values, oxides inactivated much of the electrode surface for both CT reduction and hydrogen evolution. At lower pH values, oxide dissolution served to increase the electroactive surface area of the disk electrode. Anson analysis and kinetic modeling showed that CT adsorption to electroactive sites was a nonlinear function of the CT concentration and was in equilibrium with the bulk solution. CT dechlorination rates on nickel electrodes were 16 times slower than those on iron electrodes under similar conditions. However, CT reactions at nickel surfaces produced predominantly methane as the first detectable product, while reduction at iron surfaces produced chloroform. These results suggest that, although nickel is not a catalyst for the rate-limiting step for CT dechlorination, it may serve a catalytic role in subsequent reaction steps.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry