Reduction of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene by iron metal: Kinetic controls on product distributions in batch experiments

Joel Z. Bandstra, Rosemarie Miehr, Richard L. Johnson, Paul G. Tratnyek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The reaction kinetics and product distributions for the reduction of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) by granular iron metal (Fe0) were studied in batch experiments under a variety of initial concentrations of TNT and Fe0. Although the kinetics of TNT disappearance were found to behave in accord with the standard theory for surface-mediated reactions, a complex relationship was found between the initial concentrations of TNT and Fe 0 and the appearance of the expected nitro reduction product, 2,4,6-triaminotoluene (TAT). TNT was completely converted to TAT only when the initial concentration of TNT was low and/or the initial concentration of Fe 0 was high. Mathematical analysis of a range of generic reaction schemes that produce stable end products in addition to TAT showed that (i) surface complexation of TAT is insufficient to describe all of our data and (ii) polymerization reactions involving TAT and/or various reaction intermediates are the likely source of the incomplete conversion of TNT to TAT at high initial TNT concentration and low Fe0 concentration. The relationship between TAT production and reaction conditions is shown to imply that passivation due to reaction products is more likely when the ratio of initial TNT concentration to Fe0 concentration is high and, therefore, that passivation rates observed at the laboratory scale are likely to be faster than those which would be observed at the field scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-238
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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