Reductive dechlorination of tetrachloroethene in a sand reactor using a potentiostat

Tatsuo Shimomura, Robert A. Sanford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, an electrochemical system was investigated to enhance abiotic dechlorination of chlorinated solvents in contaminated soil in situ. A potentiostatic electrolysis sand reactor was developed and tested to evaluate tetrachloroethene (PCE) dechlorination in saturated sand. When operated with recirculating nutrient-supplemented water the reactor sustained a low oxidation reduction potential (ORP) at the cathode (<-400 mV standard hydrogen electrode [SHE]), a pH less than 9.4, and electric current >5 mA at room temperature with the cathodic potential controlled at 950 mV SHE. Tetrachloroethene in the electrolysis reactor had a half-life of 6.8 d compared with the control bioreactor without electrolysis, which had a PCE half-life of 16.4 d. Ethane and ethene were the main dechlorination products in the test reactor, while trichloroethene (TCE) accumulated in the nutrient-amended control reactor without electrolysis. An electrolysis reactor operated with water not amended with nutrients showed a PCE half-life of 7.6 d, suggesting that most of dechlorination activity in the reactor was abiotic. Since complete dechlorination can be achieved under moderate pH and temperature, this type of electrolysis technology is attractive as a remedial method for subsurface chloroethene contamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1435-1438
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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