Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 1015–1025 | Cite as

Decomplexation efficiency and mechanism of Cu(II)–EDTA by H2O2 coupled internal micro-electrolysis process

  • Dongfang Zhou
  • Yongyou HuEmail author
  • Qian Guo
  • Weiguang Yuan
  • Jiefan Deng
  • Yapan Dang
Research Article


Internal micro-electrolysis (IE) coupled with Fenton oxidation (IEF) was a very effective technology for copper (Cu)–ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) wastewater treatment. However, the mechanisms of Cu2+ removal and EDTA degradation were scarce and lack persuasion in the IEF process. In this paper, the decomplexation and removal efficiency of Cu–EDTA and the corresponding mechanisms during the IEF process were investigated by batch test. An empirical equation and the oxidation reduction potential (ORP) index were proposed to flexibly control IE and the Fenton process, respectively. The results showed that Cu2+, total organic carbon (TOC), and EDTA removal efficiencies were 99.6, 80.3, and 83.4%, respectively, under the proper operation conditions of iron dosage of 30 g/L, Fe/C of 3/1, initial pH of 3.0, Fe2+/H2O2 molar ratio of 1/4, and reaction time of 20 min, respectively for IE and the Fenton process. The contributions of IE and Fenton to Cu2+ removal were 91.2 and 8.4%, respectively, and those to TOC and EDTA removal were 23.3, 25.1, and 57, 58.3%, respectively. It was found that Fe2+-based replacement–precipitation and hydroxyl radical (•OH) were the most important effects during the IEF process. •OH played an important role in the degradation of EDTA, whose yield and productive rate were 3.13 mg/L and 0.157 mg/(L min−1), respectively. Based on the intermediates detected by GC-MS, including acetic acid, propionic acid, pentanoic acid, amino acetic acid, 3-(diethylamino)-1,2-propanediol, and nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA), a possible degradation pathway of Cu–EDTA in the IEF process was proposed.

Graphical abstract

The mechanism diagram of IEF process


Internal micro-electrolysis Fenton Cu–EDTA Decomplexation Degradation 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Fund of China (Foundation of Guangdong Province of China; No. U1401235).

Supplementary material

11356_2016_8216_MOESM1_ESM.docx (589 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 588 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dongfang Zhou
    • 1
  • Yongyou Hu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Qian Guo
    • 1
  • Weiguang Yuan
    • 2
  • Jiefan Deng
    • 3
  • Yapan Dang
    • 1
  1. 1.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Ecological Remediation for Industrial Agglomeration Area, College of Environment and EnergySouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Zhujianghai Institute of Salty Water DesalinationDongguanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of Dongguan Environmental ScienceDongguanPeople’s Republic of China

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