Effect of surface functionalization of Fe3O4 nano-enabled electrodes on the electrochemical reduction of nitrate

Mariana Marcos-Hernández, Gabriel Antonio Cerrón-Calle, Yulu Ge, Sergi Garcia-Segura, Carlos M. Sánchez-Sánchez, Ana S. Fajardo, Dino Villagrán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Nitrate is a noxious and persistent oxyanion in drinking waters. It is themed as one of the most common water quality violations worldwide. Nitrate electrocatalytic reduction appears to be a viable solution. However, the use of platinum group elements (PGEs) as electrocatalysts must be avoided due to their high cost and limited availability. In this study, earth-abundant nano-Fe3O4 electrodes were synthesized to surpass those implementation barriers. Surface functionalization has demonstrated to impact performance of inner sphere catalytic transformations but has been seldomly explored in the context of nitrate remediation. To understand the effect of the functionalization of Fe3O4 surfaces, Fe3O4 nano-enabled electrodes were functionalized with amine and carboxylic acids groups. After 360 min, the most promising results were obtained when the Fe3O4 surface was modified with carboxylic groups. The nitrate conversion obtained was ∼ 90%, selectivity towards ammonia of ∼ 55% and an electric energy per order (EE/O) of 37 kWh m−3 order−1. This EE/O value is ∼ 2× lower, when compared to an experiment using a bare Fe-plate. Therefore, nano-Fe3O4 electrodes hold the potential of providing a green resource recovery process to treat nitrate pollution while recovering ammonia for its reuse as enriched water for crops irrigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119771
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Functionalized magnetite
  • Mineral iron oxide
  • Nano-enabled electrodes
  • Nitrate electroremediation
  • Water denitrification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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