Laboratory batch experiments were performed to assess the impacts of temperature and mineralogy on the abiotic dechlorination of tetrachloroethene (PCE) or trichloroethene (TCE) due to the presence of ferrous minerals in natural aquifer clayey soils under anaerobic conditions. A combination of x-ray diffraction (XRD), magnetic susceptibility, and ferrous mineral content were used to characterize each of the 3 natural soils tested in this study, and dechlorination at temperatures ranging from 20 to 55 °C were examined. Results showed that abiotic dechlorination occurred in all 3 soils examined, yielding reduced gas abiotic dechlorination products acetylene, butane, ethene, and/or propane. Bulk first-order dechlorination rate constants (kbulk), scaled to the soil:water ratio expected for in situ conditions, ranged from 2.0 × 10−5 day−1 at 20 °C, to 32 × 10−5 day−1 at 55 °C in the soil with the greatest ferrous mineral content. For the generation of acetylene and ethene from PCE, the reaction was well described by Arrhenius kinetics, with an activation energy of 91 kJ/mol. For the generation of coupling products butane and propane, the Arrhenius equation did not provide a satisfactory description of the data, likely owing to the complex reaction mechanisms associated with these products and/or diffusional mass transfer processes associated with the ferrous minerals likely responsible for these coupling reactions. Although the data set was too limited to determine a definitive correlation, the two soils with elevated ferrous mineral contents had elevated abiotic dechlorination rate constants, while the one soil with a low ferrous mineral content had a relatively low abiotic dechlorination rate constant. Overall, results suggest intrinsic abiotic dechlorination rates may be an important long-term natural attenuation component in site conceptual models for clays that have the appropriate iron mineralogy.
Physical, chemical, and biological interactions between groundwater and sedimentary rock directly control the fundamental subsurface properties such as porosity, permeability, and flow. This is true for a variety of subsurface scenarios, ranging from shallow groundwater aquifers to deeply buried hydrocarbon reservoirs. Microfluidic flow cells are now commonly being used to study these processes at the pore scale in simplified pore structures meant to mimic subsurface reservoirs. However, these micromodels are typically fabricated from glass, silicon, or polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and are therefore incapable of replicating the geochemical reactivity and complex three-dimensional pore networks present in subsurface lithologies. To address these limitations, we developed a new microfluidic experimental test bed, herein called the Real Rock-Microfluidic Flow Cell (RR-MFC). A porous 500 μm-thick real rock sample of the Clair Group sandstone from a subsurface hydrocarbon reservoir of the North Sea was prepared and mounted inside a PDMS microfluidic channel, creating a dynamic flow-through experimental platform for real-time tracking of subsurface reactive transport. Transmitted and reflected microscopy, cathodoluminescence microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and confocal laser microscopy techniques were used to (1) determine the mineralogy, geochemistry, and pore networks within the sandstone inserted in the RR-MFC, (2) analyze non-reactive tracer breakthrough in two- and (depth-limited) three-dimensions, and (3) characterize multiphase flow. The RR-MFC is the first microfluidic experimental platform that allows direct visualization of flow and transport in the pore space of a real subsurface reservoir rock sample, and holds potential to advance our understandings of reactive transport and other subsurface processes relevant to pollutant transport and cleanup in groundwater, as well as energy recovery.
Catalytic reduction of nitrate in ion exchange (IX) waste brine for reuse is a promising option for reducing IX costs and environmental impacts. A recycling trickle bed reactor (TBR) was designed and optimized using 0.5 percent byweight (wt%) palladium–0.05 wt% indium catalysts supported on US mesh size 12 × 14 or 12 × 30 activated carbon particles. Various liquid superficial velocities (Ur) and hydrogen gas superficial velocities (Ug-H2) were evaluated to assess performance in different flow regimes; catalyst activity increased with Ug-H2 at all Ur for both catalysts and was greatest for the 12 × 30 catalyst at thelowest Ur (8.9 m/h). The 12 × 30 catalyst demonstrated up to 100% higher catalytic activity and 280% higher mass transfer rate compared with the 12 × 14 catalyst. Optimal TBR performance was achieved with both catalysts in thetrickle flow regime. The results indicate that the TBR is a promising step forward, and continued improvements are possible to overcome remaining mass transfer limitations.
Members of the Geobacteraceae family are ubiquitous metal reducers that utilize conductive ‘nanowires’ to reduce Mn(IV) and Fe(III) oxides in anaerobic sediments. However, it is not currently known if and to what extent the Mn(IV) and Fe(III) oxides in soil grains and low permeability sediments that are sequestered in pore spaces too small for cell passage can be reduced by long-range extracellular electron transport via Geobacter nanowires, and what mechanisms control this reduction. We developed a microfluidic reactor that physically separates Geobacter sulfurreducens from the Mn(IV) mineral birnessite by a 1.4 μm thick wall containing <200 nm pores. Using optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy, we show that birnessite can be reduced up to 15 μm away from cell bodies, similar to the reported length of Geobacter nanowires. Reduction across the nanoporous wall required reducing conditions, provided by Escherichia coli, and an exogenous supply of riboflavin. Our results discount electron shuttling by dissolved flavins, and instead support their role as bound redox cofactors in electron transport from nanowires to metal oxides. We also show that upon addition of a soluble electron shuttle (i.e., AQDS), reduction extends beyond the reported nanowire length up to 40 μm into a layer of birnessite.
Wettability is a key reservoir characteristic influencing geological carbon sequestration (GCS) processes, such as CO2 transport and storage capacity. Wettability is often determined on a limited number of reservoir samples by measuring the contact angle at the CO2/brine/mineral interface, but the ability to predict this value remains a challenge. In this work, minerals comprising a natural reservoir sample were identified, and the influence of their surface roughness and mineralogy on the contact angle was quantified to evaluate predictive models and controlling mechanisms. The natural sample was obtained from the Mount Simon formation, a representative siliciclastic reservoir that is the site of a United States Department of Energy CO2 injection project. A thin section of the Mount Simon sandstone was examined with compound light microscopy and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). Quartz and feldspar were identified as dominant minerals and were coated with various reddish black precipitates consistent with illite clay and iron oxide hematite. Contact angle (θ) measurements were conducted for the four representative minerals and the Mount Simon sample over a range of pressures (2–25 MPa) at 40 °C. At supercritical conditions, all samples are strongly water-wet, with contact angles between 27° and 45°. Several predictive models for contact angle were evaluated for the mineral and Mount Simon samples, including the Wenzel and Cassie–Baxter models, plus newly proposed modifications of these that account for the fraction of different minerals comprising the reservoir sample surface, the surface roughness, and the extent that roughness pits are filled with brine. Modeling results suggest that the fraction of mineral surfaces containing roughness pits filled with brine is the most important reservoir characteristic that controls wettability in the Mount Simon sandstone, followed by surface mineralogy. To our knowledge, this is one of the few studies to investigate the effects of individual minerals on the wettability of a natural reservoir sample.
Well-defined palladium–gold nanoparticles (PdAuNPs) with randomly alloyed structures and broadly tunable compositions were studied in catalytic nitrite (NO2–) reduction. The catalysts were synthesized using a microwave-assisted polyol coreduction method. PdxAu100–xNPs with systematically varied compositions (x = 18–83) were supported on amorphous silica (SiO2) and studied as model catalysts for aqueous NO2– reduction in a batch reactor, using H2 as the electron donor. The reactions followed pseudo-first-order kinetics for ≥80% NO2– conversion. The PdxAu100–xNP-SiO2 catalysts showed a volcano-like correlation between NO2– reduction activity and x; the highest activity was observed for Pd53Au47, with an associated first-order rate constant of 5.12 L min–1 gmetal–1. Alloy NPs with greater proportions of Au were found to reduce the loss in catalytic activity due to sulfide fouling. Density functional theory calculations indicate that this is because Au weakens sulfur binding at PdAuNP surfaces due to atomic ensemble, electronic, and strain effects and thus reduces sulfur poisoning. The environmental relevance of the most active supported catalyst was evaluated by subjecting it to five cycles of catalytic NO2– reduction. The catalytic activity decreased over multiple cycles, but analysis of the postreaction PdxAu100–xNP-SiO2 materials using complementary techniques indicated that there were no significant structural changes. Most importantly, we show that PdxAu100–xNP-SiO2 alloys are significantly more active NO2– reduction catalysts in comparison to pure Pd catalysts.
For over two decades, Pd has been the primary hydrogenation metal studied for reductive catalytic water treatment applications. Herein, we report that alternative platinum group metals (Rh, Ru, Pt and Ir) can exhibit substantially higher activity, wider substrate selectivity and variable pH dependence in comparison to Pd. Cross comparison of multiple metals and oxyanion substrates provides new mechanistic insights into the heterogeneous reactions. Activity differences and pH effects mainly originate from the chemical nature of individual metals. Considering the advantages in performance and cost, results support renewed investigation of alternative hydrogenation metals to advance catalytic technologies for water purification and other environmental applications.
Three techniques to measure and understand the contact angle, θ, of a CO2/brine/rock system relevant to geologic carbon storage were performed with Mount Simon sandstone. Traditional sessile drop measurements of CO2/brine on the sample were conducted and a water-wet system was observed, as is expected. A novel series of measurements inside of a Mount Simon core, using a micro X-ray computed tomography imaging system with the ability to scan samples at elevated pressures, was used to examine the θ of residual bubbles of CO2. Within the sandstone core the matrix appeared to be neutrally wetting, with an average θ around 90°. A large standard deviation of θ (20.8°) within the core was also observed. To resolve this discrepancy between experimental measurements, a series of Lattice Boltzmann model simulations were performed with differing intrinsic θ values. The model results with a θ=80° were shown to match the core measurements closely, in both magnitude and variation. The small volume and complex geometry of the pore spaces that CO2 was trapped in is the most likely explanation of this discrepancy between measured values, though further work is warranted.
Recently, N,N-trans Re(O)(LN–O)2X (LN–O = monoanionic N–O chelates; X = Cl or Br prior to being replaced by solvents or alkoxides) complexes have been found to be superior to the corresponding N,N-cis isomers in the catalytic reduction of perchlorate via oxygen atom transfer. However, reported methods for Re(O)(LN–O)2X synthesis often yield only the N,N-cis complex or a mixture of trans and cis isomers. This study reports a geometry-inspired ligand design rationale that selectively yields N,N-trans Re(O)(LN–O)2Cl complexes. Analysis of the crystal structures revealed that the dihedral angles (DAs) between the two LN–O ligands of N,N-cis Re(O)(LN–O)2Cl complexes are less than 90°, whereas the DAs in most N,N-trans complexes are greater than 90°. Variably sized alkyl groups (−Me, −CH2Ph, and −CH2Cy) were then introduced to the 2-(2′-hydroxyphenyl)-2-oxazoline (Hhoz) ligand to increase steric hindrance in the N,N-cis structure, and it was found that substituents as small as −Me completely eliminate the formation of N,N-cisisomers. The generality of the relationship between N,N-trans/cis isomerism and DAs is further established from a literature survey of 56 crystal structures of Re(O)(LN–O)2X, Re(O)(LO–N–N–O)X, and Tc(O)(LN–O)2X congeners. Density functional theory calculations support the general strategy of introducing ligand steric hindrance to favor synthesis of N,N-trans Re(O)(LN–O)2X and Tc(O)(LN–O)2X complexes. This study demonstrates the promise of applying rational ligand design for isomeric control of metal complex structures, providing a path forward for innovations in a number of catalytic, environmental, and biomedical applications.
Palladium (Pd)-based catalysts hold promise as an alternative water treatment technology for nitrate (NO3–), but practical application requires a flow-through reactor that efficiently delivers hydrogen (H2) from gas to water. A trickle bed reactor (TBR) packed with a 0.1 percent by weight (wt%) Pd–0.01 wt% In/γ-Al2O3 (indium and porous aluminum oxide) catalyst was evaluated to address this challenge. Catalytic activity generally increased with H2 superficial velocity (0.65–29.6 m/h) and liquid (deionized water) superficial velocities from 14.8 to 26.6 m/h before decreasing at 38.5 m/h. This decrease corresponded to a change in flow regime and suggests that optimal TBR performance occurs at the transition from pulse to bubble flow. An optimal TBR activity of 19.5 ± 1.3 mg NO3–/min-g Pd was obtained; this is only ~18% of the batch reactor activity as a result of H2 mass transfer limitations, but three to 15 times greater than activities obtained with previous flow-through reactors. Catalyst deactivation occurred in the TBR after 41 days of operation, motivating the need for improved fouling mitigation strategies.