Graphene: A new activator of sodium persulfate for the advanced oxidation of parabens in water.Water Res. 2017 12 01; 126:111-121.WR
Graphene was successfully employed as a catalyst for the activation of sodium persulfate, towards the effective degradation of propylparaben, an emerging micro-pollutant, representative of the parabens family. A novel process is proposed which utilizes a commercial graphene nano-powder as the catalyst and sodium persulfate as the oxidizing agent. It was found that over 95% of micro-pollutant degradation occurs within 15 min of reaction time. The effects of catalyst loading (75 mg/L to 1 g/L), sodium persulfate (SPS) concentration (10 mg/L to 1 g/L), initial solution pH (3-9) and initial paraben concentration (0.5 mg/L to 5 mg/L) were examined. Experiments were carried out in different aqueous conditions, including ultrapure water, bottled water and wastewater in order to investigate their effect on the degradation rate. The efficiency of the process was lower at complex water matrices signifying the role of organic matter as scavenger of the oxidant species. The role of radical scavengers was also investigated through the addition of methanol and tert-butanol in several concentrations, which was found to be important only in relatively high values. An experiment in which propylparaben was substituted by methylparaben was conducted and similar results were obtained. The consumption of SPS was found to be high in all pH conditions tested, surpassing 80% in near neutral environment. However, the results indicate that the sulfate radicals formed react with water in alkaline conditions, which are the optimal for the reaction, producing hydroxyl radicals which appear to be the dominant species leading to the rapid degradation of propylparaben. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time pristine graphene has been implemented as an activator of sodium persulfate for the effective oxidation of micro-pollutants.