Electrochemical incineration of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin in sulfate medium and synthetic urine matrix

Vanessa S. Antonin, Mauro C. Santos, Sergi Garcia-Segura, Enric Brillas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


The degradation of 100mL of 0.245mM of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin in 0.05M Na2SO4 at pH 3.0 has been studied by electrochemical oxidation with electrogenerated H2O2 (EO-H2O2), electro-Fenton (EF), UVA photoelectro-Fenton (PEF) and solar PEF (SPEF). Electrolyses were performed with a stirred tank reactor using either a boron-doped diamond (BDD) or Pt anode and an air-diffusion cathode. In EF, PEF and SPEF, ciprofloxacin was rapidly removed due to its oxidation with OH formed from Fenton's reaction between added Fe2+ and H2O2 generated at the cathode. The larger electrochemical incineration of the antibiotic was achieved by SPEF with BDD with 95% mineralization thanks to the additional attack by hydroxyl radicals formed from water oxidation at the BDD anode surface and the photolysis of final Fe(III)-oxalate and Fe(III)-oxamate species from sunlight. Up to 10 primary intermediates and 11 hydroxylated derivatives were identified by LC-MS, allowing the proposal of a reaction sequence for ciprofloxacin mineralization. A different behavior was found when the same antibiotic concentration was oxidized in a synthetic urine matrix with high urea content and a mixture of PO43-, SO42- and Cl- ions. Since Fenton's reaction was inhibited in this medium, only EO and EO-H2O2 processes were useful for mineralization, being the organics mainly degraded by HClO formed from Cl- oxidation. The EO process with a BDD/stainless steel cell was found to be the most powerful treatment for the urine solution, yielding 96% ciprofloxacin removal and 98% mineralization after 360min of electrolysis at optimum values of pH 3.0 and current density of 66.6mAcm-2. The evolution of released inorganic ions was followed by ion chromatography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Oct 5 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Electro-Fenton
  • Electrochemical oxidation
  • Photoelectro-Fenton
  • Sunlight
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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