Effectiveness of metal oxide catalysts for the degradation of 1,4-dioxane
1,4-dioxane, commonly used as a solvent stabilizer and industrial solvent, is an environmental contaminant and probable carcinogen. In this study, we explored the concept of using metal oxides to activate H2O2 catalytically at neutral pH in the dark for 1,4-dioxane degradation. Based on batch kinetics measurements, materials that displayed the most suitable characteristics (high 1,4-dioxane degradation activity and high H2O2 consumption efficiency) were ZrO2, WOx/ZrO2, and CuO. In contrast, materials like TiO2, WO3, and aluminosilicate zeolite Y exhibited both low 1,4-dioxane degradation and H2O2 consumption activities. Other materials (e.g., Fe2O3 and CeO2) consumed H2O2 rapidly, however 1,4-dioxane degradation was negligible. The supported metal oxide WOx/ZrO2 was the most active for 1,4-dioxane degradation and had higher H2O2 consumption efficiency compared to ZrO2. In situ acetonitrile poisoning and FTIR spectroscopy results indicate different surface acid sites for 1,4-dioxane and H2O2 adsorption and reaction. Electron paramagnetic resonance measurements indicate that H2O2 forms hydroxyl radicals (˙OH) in the presence of CuO, and unusually, forms superoxide/peroxyl radicals (˙O2−) in the presence of WOx/ZrO2. The identified material properties suggest metal oxides/H2O2 as a potential advanced oxidation process in the treatment of 1,4-dioxane and other recalcitrant organic compounds.