The global population growth demands intensification of anthropogenic processes, thus leading to inter alia pollution of both land and aquatic environments with toxic organic compounds. Particularly harmful synthetic compounds are classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Their relatively high chemical resistance resulted in a worldwide ban or strict control on the use of POPs. The majority of POPs were commonly used as pesticides, and unfortunately, some of them are still utilized as an aid in agricultural practices. Therefore, environmental monitoring in terms of reliable detection and quantification of pesticidal POPs is an ever-increasing need. Chemical sensors and adsorption materials crafted for specific pesticide operate on host-guest interactions should provide selectivity and sensitivity, thus leading to the detection of target molecule down to the nanomolar range. This could be achieved with materials exhibiting a very large active surface area, well-defined structure, and high stability. The novel materials studied in that context are metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). The structure of various MOFs can be functionalized to provide desired host-guest interactions. In this mini-review, we critically discuss the application of MOFs for the detection and adsorption of selected pesticides that are classified as POPs according to the Stockholm Convention.
A novel, cost-effective and real-time process monitoring and control system was developed to maintain stable operation of waste-to-energy gasification process. It comprised a feedback loop control that utilized the differential temperatures of the oxidation and reduction zones in the gasifier to determine the regional heat-flow (endothermic or exothermic), to assess the availability of oxidizing agent (for instance, air or O2) at the char bed and to calculate the fuel feeding rate. Based on the correlations developed, the air-to-fuel ratio or the equivalence air ratio (ER) for air gasification could be instantaneously adjusted to maintain stable operation of the gasifier. This study demonstrated a simplification of complex reaction dynamics in the gasification process to differential temperature profiling of the gasifier. The monitoring and control system was tested for more than 70 h of continuous operation in a downdraft fixed-bed gasifier with refuse-derived fuel (RDF) prepared from municipal solid wastes (MSW). With the system, fuel feeding rate could be adjusted accurately to stabilize the operating temperature and ER in the gasifier and generate syngas with consistent properties. Significant reductions in the fluctuations of temperature profiles at oxidation and reduction zones (from higher than 100 °C to lower than 50 °C), differential temperatures (from ±200 to ±50 °C) in gasifier and the flow rate (from 16 ± 6.5 to 12 ± 1.8 L/min), composition of main gas components, LHV (from 6.2 ± 3.1 to 5.7 ± 1.6 MJ/Nm3) and tar content (from 8.0 ± 9.7 to 7.5 ± 4.2 g/Nm3) of syngas were demonstrated. The developed gasifier monitoring and control system is adaptable to various types (updraft, downdraft, and fluidized-bed) and scales (lab, pilot, large scale) of gasifiers with different types of fuel.
While Cobalt nanoparticles (Co NPs) are useful for catalytic Oxone activation, it is more advantageous to embed/immobilize Co NPs on nitrogen-doped carbon substrates to provide synergy for enhancing catalytic performance. Herein, this study proposes to fabricate such a composite by utilizing covalent organic frameworks (COF) as a precursor. Through complexation of COF with Co, a stable product of Co-complexed COF (Co-COF) can be synthesized. This Co-COF is further converted through pyrolysis to N-doped carbon in which cobaltic NPs are embedded. Owing to its well-defined structures of Co-COF, the pyrolysis process transforms COF into N-doped carbon with a bubble-like morphology. Such Co NP-embedded N-doped carbon nanobubbles (CoCNB) with pores, magnetism and Co, shall be a promising catalyst. Thus, CoCNB shows a much stronger catalytic activity than commercial Co3O4 NPs to activate Oxone to degrade toxic Amaranth dye (AMD). CoCNB-activated Oxone also achieves a significantly lower Ea value of AMD degradation (i.e., 27.9 kJ/mol) than reported Ea values in previous literatures. Besides, CoCNB is still effective for complete elimination of AMD in the presence of high-concentration NaCl and surfactants, and CoCNB is also reusable over five consecutive cycles.
As sulfate-radical (SR)-based advanced oxidation processes are increasingly implemented, Oxone has been frequently-used for generation of SR. While Co3O4 nanoparticle (NP) has been widely-accepted as a promising catalyst for activating Oxone, Co3O4 NPs tend to aggregate in water, losing their reactivity. Thus, many attempts have immobilized Co3O4 NPs on supports, especially carbonaceous substrates, because combination of Co NPs with carbon substrates offers synergistic effects for boosting catalytic activities. Moreover, carbon substrates doped with hetero-atoms (N and S) further increase electron transfer and reactivity. Therefore, it is even promising to immobilize Co NPs onto N/S-doped carbon (NSC) to form Co-embedded NSC (denoted as CoNSC) for enhancing Oxone activation. In this study, a convenient and facile technique is proposed to prepare such a CoNSC via a simple carbonization treatment of a coordination polymer of Co and trithiocyanuric acid (TTCA). The resulting CoNSC exhibits the sheet-like hexagonal morphology with the core-shell configuration, and Co NPs are well-embedded into the N/S-doped carbonaceous matrix, making it an advantageous heterogeneous catalyst for Oxone activation. As Azorubine S (ARS) decolorization is employed as a model reaction of Oxone activation, CoNSC exhibits a higher catalytic activity than pristine Co3O4 and NSC for Oxone activation to decolorize ARS. In comparison to the other reported catalysts, CoNSC also possesses a much lower Ea for ARS decolorization. CoNSC can be also reusable and stable for Oxone activation over multiple cycles without loss of catalytic activity. These features validate that CoNSC is a promising and useful Co-based catalyst for Oxone activation.
Engineered biochar is increasingly regarded as a cost-effective and eco-friendly peroxymonosulfate (PMS) activator. Herein, biochar doped with nitrogen and sulfur moieties was prepared by pyrolysis of wood shavings and doping precursor. The doping precursor consists of either urea, thiourea or 1:1 w/w mixture of urea and thiourea (denoted as NSB-U, NSB-T and NSB-UT, respectively). The physicochemical properties of the NSBs were extensively characterized, revealing that they are of noncrystalline carbon with porous structure. The NSBs were employed as PMS activator to degrade organic pollutants particularly methylene blue (MB). It was found that NSB-UT exhibited higher MB removal rate with kapp = 0.202 min-1 due to its relatively high surface area and favorable intrinsic surface moieties (combination of graphitic N and thiophenic S). The effects of catalyst loading, PMS dosage and initial pH were evaluated. Positive enhancement of the MB removal rate can be obtained by carefully increasing the catalyst loading or PMS dosage. Meanwhile, the MB removal rate is greatly influenced by pH due to electrostatic interactions and pH dependent reactions. The NSB-UT can be reused for several cycles to some extent and its catalytic activity can be restored by thermal treatment. Based on the radical scavenger study and XPS analysis, the nonradical pathway facilitated by the graphitic N and thiophenic S active sites are revealed to be the dominant reaction pathway. Overall, the results of this study show that engineered biochar derived from locally available biowaste can be transformed into PMS activator for environmental applications.
Catalytic activation of peroxymonosulfate (PMS) and peroxydisulfate (PDS) (or collectively known as persulfate, PS) using carbocatalyst is increasingly gaining attention as a promising technology for sustainable recalcitrant pollutant removal in water. Single heteroatom doping using either N, S, B or P is widely used to enhance the performance of the carbocatalyst for PS activation. However, the performance enhancement from single heteroatom doping is limited by the type of heteroatom used. To further enhance the performance of the carbocatalyst beyond the limit of single heteroatom doping, multi-heteroatom doping can be conducted. This review aims to provide a state-of-the-art overview on the development of multi-heteroatom-doped carbocatalyst for PS activation. The potential synergistic and antagonistic interactions of various heteroatoms including N and B, N and S, N and P, and N and halogen for PS activation are evaluated. Thereafter, the preparation strategies to develop multi-heteroatom-doped carbocatalyst including one-step and multi-step preparation approaches along with the characterization techniques are discussed. Evidence and summary of the performance of multi-heteroatom-doped carbocatalyst for various recalcitrant pollutants removal via PS activation are also provided. Finally, the prospects of employing multi-heteroatom-doped carbocatalyst including the need to study the correlation between different heteroatom combination, surface moiety type, and amount of dopant with the PS activation mechanism, identifying the best heteroatom combination, improving the durability of the carbocatalyst, evaluating the feasibility for full-scale application, developing low-cost multi-heteroatom-doped carbocatalyst, and assessing the environmental impact are also briefly discussed.
Herein, five N, S-co-doped carbocatalysts were prepared from different carbonaceous precursors, namely sawdust (SD), biochar (BC), carbon-nanotubes (CNTs), graphite (GP), and graphene oxide (GO) and compared. Generally, as the graphitization degree increased, the extent of N and S doping decreased, graphitic N configuration is preferred, and S configuration is unaltered. As peroxymonosulfate (PMS) activator for ciprofloxacin (CIP) removal, the catalytic performance was in order: NS-CNTs (0.037 min-1) > NS-BC (0.032 min-1) > NS-rGO (0.024 min-1) > NS-SD (0.010 min-1) > NS-GP (0.006 min-1), with the carbonaceous properties, rather than the heteroatoms content and textural properties, being the major factor affecting the catalytic performance. NS-CNTs was found to have the supreme catalytic activity due to its remarkable conductivity (3.38 S m-1) and defective sites (ID/IG = 1.28) with high anti-interference effect against organic and inorganic matter and varying water matrixes. The PMS activation pathway was dominated by singlet oxygen (1O2) generation and electron transfer regime between CIP and PMS activated complexes. The CIP degradation intermediates were identified, and a degradation pathway is proposed. Overall, this study provides a better understanding of the importance of selecting a suitable carbonaceous platform for heteroatoms doping to produce superior PMS activator for antibiotics decontamination.
Flexible plastic packaging waste causes serious environmental issues due to challenges in recycling. This study investigated the conversion of flexible plastic packaging waste with 11.8 and 27.5 wt.% polyethylene terephthalate (PET) (denoted as PET-12 and PET-28, respectively) into oil and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). The mixtures were initially pyrolyzed and the produced volatiles were processed over 9.0 wt.% Fe2O3 supported on ZSM-5 (400 °C) to remove oxygenated hydrocarbons (catalytic cracking of terephthalic and benzoic acids) that deteriorate oil quality. The contents of oxygenated hydrocarbons were decreased in oil from 4.6 and 9.4 wt.% per mass of PET-12 and PET-28, respectively, to undetectable levels. After catalytic cracking, the oil samples had similar contents of gasoline, diesel and heavy oil/wax fractions. The non-condensable gas was converted into MWCNTs over 0.9 wt.% Ni supported on CaCO3 (700 °C). The type of plastic packaging influenced the yields (2.4 and 1.5 wt.% per mass of PET-12 and PET-28, respectively) and the properties of MWCNTs due to the differences in gas composition. Regarding the electrocatalytic application, both MWCNTs from PET-12 and PET-28 outperformed commercial MWCNTs and Pt-based electrodes during oxygen evolution reaction, suggesting that MWCNTs from flexible plastic packaging can potentially replace conventional electrode materials.
Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) represent a promising class of metallic catalysts for reduction of nitrogen-containing contaminants (NCCs), such as 4-nitrophenol (4-NP). Nevertheless, most researches involving MOFs for 4-NP reduction employ noble metals in the form of fine powders, making these powdered noble metal-based MOFs impractical and inconvenient for realistic applications. Thus, it would be critical to develop non-noble-metal MOFs which can be incorporated into macroscale and porous supports for convenient applications. Herein, the present study proposes to develop a composite material which combines advantageous features of macroscale/porous supports, and nanoscale functionality of MOFs. In particular, copper foam (CF) is selected as a macroscale porous medium, which is covered by nanoflower-structured CoO to increase surfaces for growing a cobaltic MOF, ZIF-67. The resultant composite comprises of CF covered by CoO nanoflowers decorated with ZIF-67 to form a hierarchical 3D-structured catalyst, enabling this ZIF-67@Cu foam (ZIF@CF) a promising catalyst for reducing 4-NP, and other NCCs. Thus, ZIF@CF can readily reduce 4-NP to 4-AP with a significantly lower Ea of 20 kJ/mol than reported values. ZIF@CF could be reused over 10 cycles and remain highly effective for 4-NP reduction. ZIF@CF also efficiently reduces other NCCs, such as 2-nitrophenol, 3-nitrophenol, methylene blue, and methyl orange. ZIF@CF can be adopted as catalytic filters to enable filtration-type reduction of NCCs by passing NCC solutions through ZIF@CF to promptly and conveniently reduce NCCs. The versatile and advantageous catalytic activity of ZIF@CF validates that ZIF@CF is a promising and practical heterogeneous catalyst for reductive treatments of NCCs.