trichloroethylene, remediation, iron, dehalogenation


Remediation of trichloroethylene (TCE) and other chlorinated solvents is of great concern due to their toxicity and their persistence in the environment. Iron has been used extensively in the past decade as a subsurface reactive agent for the remediation of dense, nonaqueous-phase liquids (DNAPLs). Permeable reactive barrier walls (PRBW) have been installed at many sites around the country to treat contaminated plumes resulting from the presence of DNAPL pools. The use of zero-valent metals, such as iron, to effectively reductively dechlorinate DNAPLs has been employed as the reactive material in these PRBWs (Gillham et al., 1993). However, limited work has been conducted to compare the kinetics of TCE degradation related to various manufacturing sources of iron and the pretreatment the iron receives prior to subsurface installation. Determination of iron reactivity through kinetic studies makes it possible to compare different types of iron and the effects that pretreatment has on reactivity. This research utilized rate studies, scanning electron microscopy, and BET surface area analysis for iron particles that were obtained from several sources. Peerless Metal Powders and Abrasive, Inc., Connelly-GPM, Inc., and Alfa Aesar Inc., produced the iron particles using various manufacturing techniques, and nanoscale iron was synthesized in our laboratory. By utilizing zero-headspace batch vial experiments and gas chromatography, changes in TCE concentration were determined. The data obtained produced linear first order rate plots from which dehalogenation rate constants were obtained. The rate constants were normalized by iron mass, solution volume, and surface area. The pretreatment techniques employed in this study, including ultrasonication and acid washing, demonstrated a beneficial effect by removing oxide precipitates from the iron surface, thus increasing the reactivity of the iron. Mass loading studies revealed how physical factors, associated with the experimental setup, could influence reaction rates. Surface area studies confirmed that the smaller iron particles, such as the nanoscale iron, have a greater surface area per unit mass. The large mass and volume normalized rate constant, kMV, obtained for the nanoscale iron was a result of this high surface area. However, the calculated surface area normalized rate constant, kSA, for the nanoscale iron was significantly lower than those for the granular iron samples tested. It was concluded that differences in surface area normalized rate constants, between different iron particle types, could be attributed to inherent characteristics of the iron, such as composition and crystal structure.


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Graduation Date





Clausen, Christian


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences



Degree Program

Industrial Chemistry








Release Date

January 2006

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Included in

Chemistry Commons