Mineralization of the antibiotic chloramphenicol by solar photoelectro-Fenton. From stirred tank reactor to solar pre-pilot plant.

Sergi Garcia-Segura, Eliane Bezerra Cavalcanti, Enric Brillas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Chloramphenicol is a widely used broad-spectrum antibiotic, which has been detected as emerging pollutant in natural waters. The mineralization of this drug in a synthetic sulfate solution of pH 3.0 has been studied by anodic oxidation with electrogenerated H2O2 (AO-H2O2), electro-Fenton (EF), UVA photoelectro-Fenton (PEF) and solar photoelectro-Fenton (SPEF). Comparative electrolyses carried out with 100mL stirred tank reactors equipped with a boron-doped diamond (BDD) or Pt anode and an air-diffusion cathode at constant current density showed the superiority of the processes with BDD because of the higher oxidation ability of OH formed from water oxidation at the BDD surface. Total mineralization was rapidly reached for the most potent treatment of SPEF with BDD due to the additional oxidation by OH produced from Fenton's reaction between added Fe2+ (0.5mM) and H2O2 generated at the cathode, together the synergistic photolytic action of sunlight, much more intense than the 6W UVA lamp used in PEF. Chloramphenicol decay always followed a pseudo-first-order kinetics. The influence of current density and substrate concentration on SPEF with BDD was examined. Nine aromatic products, thirteen hydroxylated derivatives and seven carboxylic acids were identified by different chromatographic techniques. While the initial Cl of the drug was released as chloride ion, its initial N was lost as nitrate ion and, in smaller proportion, as ammonium ion. From the detected products, a general reaction pathway for chloramphenicol mineralization is proposed. The viability of SPEF was confirmed in a 10L pre-pilot plant with a Pt/air-diffusion filter-press reactor coupled to a solar CPCs photoreactor. After 180min of electrolysis at 100mAcm-2, a 245mgL-1 chloramphenicol solution in 0.05M Na2SO4 with 0.5mM Fe2+ at pH 3.0 underwent 89% mineralization with 36% current efficiency and 30.8kWhm-3 energy cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-598
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotics
  • Oxidation products
  • Solar photoelectro-Fenton
  • Solar photolysis
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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