Glycine buffered synthesis of layered iron(II)-iron(III) hydroxides (green rusts)

Weizhao Yin, Lizhi Huang, Emil Bjerglund Pedersen, Cathrine Frandsen, Hans Christian B Hansen

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Layered Fe(II)-Fe(III) hydroxides (green rusts, GRs) are efficient reducing agents against oxidizing contaminants such as chromate, nitrate, selenite, and nitroaromatic compounds and chlorinated solvents. In this study, we adopted a buffered precipitation approach where glycine (GLY) was used in the synthesis of sulfate-interlayered GR (GRSO4) by aerial oxidation of Fe(II) or co-precipitation by adding Fe(III) salt to an aqueous solution of Fe(II) at constant pH. In both the oxidation and the co-precipitation methods pure crystalline GRSO4 was precipitated in the presence of 70mM GLY (pH 8.0), whereas in the absence of GLY, synthesis failed under similar conditions. Gycine functions as both a pH buffer and a ligand; Fe(II)-GLY complexes serve as a source of base (Fe(II)-GLY+H2O→Fe(II)+H-GLY+OH(-)) during GR formation, supplying about 45% of the total base required for the synthesis. The GLY buffer decreases pH fluctuations during base addition and hence allows for fast GRSO4 precipitation, minimizing byproduct formation. The use of other pH buffers [4-(2-hydroxyethyl)piperazine-1-ethanesulfonic acid and 2-amino-2-(hydroxymethyl)-1,3-propanediol] was also tested but failed. Mössbauer spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared, transmission electron microscopy, and Fe(II) measurements confirmed the purity, stoichiometry, and pyroaurite-type structure of the obtained GRSO4. The formula of GRSO4 was found to be Fe(II)4.08Fe(III)1.98(OH)11.6(SO4)1.00, and the tabular GR crystals had a lateral size of 100-500nm and a thickness of about 40nm. Upscaling of the synthesis by either 25 times in volume or 20 times in Fe(II) concentration resulted in pure GRSO4 products. Compared with the conventional unbuffered GRSO4 synthesis method, the present method can provide pure products with a controllable, fast, and low-cost process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Pages (from-to)429-438
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Glycine ligand
  • Green rust sulfate
  • Homogenous precipitation
  • Layered double hydroxides (LDHs)
  • glycine ligand
  • homogenous precipitation
  • layered double hydroxides (LDHs)


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