Bimolecular versus Trimolecular Reaction Pathways for H2O2 with Hypochlorous Species and Implications for Wastewater Reclamation

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The benchmark advanced oxidation technology (AOT) that uses UV/HO integrated with hypochlorous species exhibits great potential in removing micropollutants and enhancing wastewater treatability for reclamation purposes. Although efforts have been made to study the reactions of HO with hypochlorous species, there exist great discrepancies in the order of reaction kinetics, the rate constants, and the molecule-level mechanisms. This results in an excessive use of hypochlorous reagents and system underperformance during treatment processes. Herein, the titled reaction was investigated systematically through complementary experimental and theoretical approaches. Stopped-flow spectroscopic measurements revealed a combination of bi- and trimolecular reaction kinetics. The bimolecular pathway dominates at low HO concentrations, while the trimolecular pathway dominates at high HO concentrations. Both reactions were simulated using direct dynamics trajectories, and the pathways identified in the trajectories were further validated by high-level quantum chemistry calculations. The theoretical results not only supported the spectroscopic data but also elucidated the molecule-level mechanisms and helped to address the origin of the discrepancies. In addition, the impact of the environmental matrix was evaluated by using two waters with discrete characteristics, namely municipal wastewater and ammonium-rich wastewater. Municipal wastewater had a negligible matrix effect on the reaction kinetics of HO and the hypochlorous species, making it a highly suitable candidate for this integration technique. The obtained in-depth reaction mechanistic insights will enable the development of a viable and economical technology for safe water reuse.

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Environmental science & technology