Sulfidation of nano zerovalent iron (nZVI) for improved selectivity during in-situ chemical reduction (ISCR)

Dimin Fan, Graham O'Brien Johnson, Paul G. Tratnyek, Richard L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Scopus citations


The high reactivity of nano zerovalent iron (nZVI) leads to inefficient treatment due to competition with various natural reductant demand (NRD) processes, especially the reduction of water to hydrogen. Here we show that this limitation can be alleviated by sulfidation (i.e., modification by reducing sulfur compounds). nZVI synthesized on carboxylmethylcelluose (CMC-nZVI) was sulfidated with either sulfide or dithionite. The reactivity of the resulting materials was examined with three complementary assays: (i) direct measurement of hydrogen production, (ii) reduction of a colorimetric redox probe (indigo disulfonate, I2S), and (iii) dechlorination of trichloroethylene (TCE). The results indicate that sulfidation at S/Fe molar ratios of ≥0.3, effectively eliminates reaction with water, but retains significant reactivity with TCE. However, sulfidation with sulfide leaves most of the nZVI as Fe(0), whereas dithionite converts a majority of the nZVI to FeS (thus consuming much of the reducing capacity originally provided by the Fe(0)). Simplified numerical models show that the reduction kinetics of I2S and TCE are mainly dependent on the initial reducing equivalents and that the TCE reduction rate is affected by the aging of FeS. Overall, the results suggest that pretreatment of nZVI with reducing sulfur compounds could result in substantial improvement in nZVI selectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9558-9565
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 6 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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