Engineering SrCuxO composition to tailor the degradation activity toward organic pollutant under dark ambient conditions

  • Huihuang ChenEmail author
  • Weng Fu
  • Yulin Xing
  • Jinxuan Zhang
  • Jiangang KuEmail author
Research Article


The composition of SrCuxO mixed metal oxides (MMOs) was engineered via varying the amount of copper relative to strontium. As-synthesized SrCuxO were highly active for degrading methyl orange (MO) pollutant at dark ambient conditions without the aid of other reagents. The catalytic activity of SrCuxO demonstrated a reverse-volcano relationship with copper content. Copper-rich MMOs (SrCu2O) exhibited the highest degradation activity for MO by far and degraded ca. 96% MO within 25 min. MO degradation over SrCu2O was a surface-catalytic reaction and fitted pseudo-first-order reaction kinetics. The contact between MO molecules and catalyst surface initiated the reaction via the catalytic-active phase (Cu+/Cu2+ redox pair), which serves as an electron-transfer shuttle (\( \cdots {Cu}^{2+}\overset{+{e}^{-}}{\to }{Cu}^{+}\overset{-{e}^{-}}{\to }{Cu}^{2+}\cdots \)) from MO to dissolved O2, inducing the consecutive generation of reactive oxygen species, which resulted in MO degradation as evidenced by radical trapping experiment. XPS and XRD analysis revealed that active phases in SrCu2O materials underwent irreversible transformation after reaction, contributing to the observed deactivation in the cycling experiment. The observations in this study demonstrate the significance of chemical composition tailoring in catalyst synthesis for environmental remediation under dark ambient conditions.

Graphical abstract


Composition-engineering strategy Mixed metal oxide Methyl orange Wastewater treatment Electron shuttle 



H. Chen gives special thanks to the facilities and scientific and technical assistance from the University of Science and Technology of China.

Funding information

The authors acknowledge the funding support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51674091; No. 51104048).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5047_MOESM1_ESM.docx (891 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 891 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the MicroscaleUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.College of Zijin MiningFuzhou UniversityFuzhouChina
  3. 3.School of Chemical EngineeringThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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