Differential control of anode/cathode potentials of paired electrolysis for simultaneous removal of chemical oxygen demand and total nitrogen.Sci Total Environ 2019; 687:198-205ST
Paired electrolysis can take advantage of both anodic oxidation and cathodic reduction, and thus improve current efficiency for electrochemical wastewater treatment. In this work, differential control of anode/cathode potentials of paired electrolysis for simultaneous removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total nitrogen (TN, including ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite) was studied. We first determined the optimal potentials for anodic oxidation of COD/NH4+ or cathodic reduction of NO3-/NO2- (minimization of over-oxidation or over-reduction) by preliminary cyclic voltammetry and constant-potential electrolysis experiments, i.e., 1.6 V for anodic oxidation and -1.26 V for cathodic reduction in this case. The optimal working potential of the cathode was achieved at appropriate current density in the paired electrolysis system, the working potential of the anode was independently controlled by adjusting the ratio of its surface area to that of the cathode. In this way, both the cathode and anode could work under optimal potentials. At an optimized cathodic current density of 5.0 mA cm-2 and cathode/anode surface area ratio of 2:1, the removal efficiencies of COD and TN from simulated wastewater reached 91.9% and 86.2%, respectively. Additionally, the developed paired electrolysis system was validated by treating an actual pharmaceutical wastewater, results for which showed that a total current efficiency of 84.8% was achieved, which was at least twice as high as that of traditional electrochemical processes.