Assessing the efficiency of a pilot-scale GDE/BDD electrochemical system in removing phenol from high salinity waters
Enhanced mineralization of phenol in brines with high chloride content was investigated by employing an electrochemical advanced oxidation treatment that couples anodic oxidation, electrochlorination and electro-Fenton in a single process. Experimental work was carried out in a pilot scale unit with an undivided plate-and-frame cell equipped with a boron-doped diamond anode and a carbon-PTFE gas diffusion electrode as cathode, in batch recirculation mode. The effects of operating conditions on phenol degradation, including current density, air flow rate, water feed flow rate, Fe2+, dosage and pH as well as of the water matrix, were evaluated. Applied current exhibited the greatest effect on phenol degradation/ mineralization efficiency. Complete degradation of phenol (of initial concentration 50 mg L-1) was achieved under the near-optimum operating conditions (40 mA cm-2, pH 7, 0.4 m3 h-1 water circulation rate) within 30 min. Both air flow rate and Fe2+ dosage did not show a measurable impact on phenol removal. However, increasing the chloride content of water significantly improved the efficiency of treatment due to the enhanced indirect oxidation by the electrogenerated chlorine. Several trihalomethane intermediates (chloroform, bromodichloromethane) and chlorinated/brominated phenol byproducts forming during treatment, were eliminated after 60 min of processing time.