Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 28, pp 27808–27818 | Cite as

Fluorene oxidation by solar-driven photo-Fenton process: toward mild pH conditions

  • Isabelli N. DiasEmail author
  • João Paulo Bassin
  • Márcia Dezotti
  • Vítor J. P. VilarEmail author
New Challenges in the Application of Advanced Oxidation Processes


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are on the list of priority pollutants to be eliminated from the environment due to their carcinogenic and mutagenic action, chemical stability, and resistance to biodegradation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the degradation of fluorene, a well-known PAH, in aqueous solutions (0.03 and 0.08 mg L−1), by means of a solar-driven conventional (PF) and modified photo-Fenton mediated by ferrioxalate complexes (PFF). Photolysis was also employed for comparison purposes. PF reaction was evaluated at different pH values (2.8, 3.5, and 4.0) and iron concentrations (2, 5, 10, and 20 mg L−1). On the other hand, PFF studies were conducted at mild pH conditions (4.0, 5.0, and 6.0) and iron content of 2 mg L−1, keeping initial iron/oxalate molar ratio at 1:3. In both PF and PFF, the initial hydrogen peroxide/iron molar ratio was maintained at 5. In the presence of methanol as cosolvent for fluorene dissolution, the PF reaction was hampered and no consumption of H2O2 was observed during the reaction carried out at constant pH (2.8). This led to low degradation rates, similar to those achieved by photolysis. Under the same pH but using acetonitrile as cosolvent for fluorene dissolution, fluorene degradation was found to be proportional to the iron content used in the PF experiments. On the other hand, at an invariable iron concentration of 5 mg Fe2+ L−1, the increase in pH was accompanied by a decrease in the molar fraction of the most photoactive iron complex (FeOH2+) and ferric hydroxides precipitation, leading to a reduction in the fluorene degradation rate. With regard to the PFF tests, similar fluorene degradation performance was achieved at pH 4 and 5, while at pH 6 iron precipitation became relevant and the degradation rate was slightly slower. PFF has shown to be more efficient than the PF under the same pH (4) and iron concentration (2 mg L−1). Moreover, even at near neutral pH (6), fluorine degradation was shown to be feasible by using ferrioxalate complexes.


Fluorene Advanced oxidation processes Photo-Fenton Ferrioxalate complexes Compound parabolic collectors 



Dias N.I. acknowledges his PhD scholarship supported by Program Brazil/Portugal CAPES/FCT 308/11 (Research grant-BEX Process: 8989/11-7). V.J.P. Vilar acknowledges the FCT Investigator 2013 Program (IF/00273/2013).

Funding information

This work was financially supported by Project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006984—Associate Laboratory LSRE-LCM funded by FEDER through COMPETE2020-Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI)—and by national funds through FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2939_MOESM1_ESM.docx (333 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 333 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Separation and Reaction Engineering-Laboratory of Catalysis and Materials (LSRE-LCM), Departamento de Engenharia Química, Faculdade de EngenhariaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.School of ChemistryFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Chemical Engineering Program – COPPEFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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