Transformation of tetrachloroethylene in a flow-through electrochemical reactor

Bente Højlund Hyldegaard*, Lisbeth M. Ottosen, Akram N. Alshawabkeh

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Electrochemical transformation of harmful tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is evaluated as a method for management of groundwater plumes to protect the drinking water resource, its consumers and the environment. In contrast to previous work that reported transformation of trichloroethylene, a byproduct of PCE, this work focuses on transformation of PCE in a saturated porous matrix and the influence of design parameters on the removal performance. Design parameters investigated were electrode configuration, catalyst load, electrode spacing, current intensity, orientation of reactor and flow through a porous matrix. A removal of 86% was reached in the fully liquid-filled, horizontally oriented reactor at a current of 120 mA across a cathode → bipolar electrode → anode arrangement with a Darcy velocity of 0.03 cm/min (150 m/yr). The palladium load on the cathode significantly influenced the removal. Enhanced removal was observed with increased electrode spacing. Presence of an inert porous matrix improved PCE removal by 9%-point compared to a completely liquid-filled reactor. Normalization of the data indicated, that a higher charge transfer per contaminant mass is required for removal of low PCE concentrations. No chlorinated intermediates were formed. The results suggest, that PCE can be electrochemically transformed in reactor designs replicating that of a potential field-implementation. Further work is required to better understand the reduction and oxidation processes established and the parameters influencing such. This knowledge is essential for optimization towards testing in complex conditions and variations of contaminated sites.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number135566
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Chlorinated ethenes
    • Removal
    • Groundwater
    • Electrochemistry
    • Design screening


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