Stable dechlorination of Trichloroacetic Acid (TCAA) to acetic acid catalyzed by palladium nanoparticles deposited on H2-transfer membranes

Yuhang Cai, Xiangxing Long, Yi Hao Luo, Chen Zhou, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Trichloroacetic acid (TCAA) is a common disinfection byproduct (DBP) produced during chlorine disinfection. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the use of chlorine disinfection has increased, raising the already substantial risks of DBP exposure. While a number of methods are able to remove TCAA, their application for continuous treatment is limited due to their complexity and expensive or hazardous inputs. We investigated a novel system that employs palladium (Pd0) nanoparticles (PdNPs) for catalytic reductive dechlorination of TCAA. H2 was delivered directly to PdNPs in situ coated on the surface of bubble-free hollow-fiber gas-transfer membranes. The H2-based membrane Pd film reactor (H2−MPfR) achieved a high catalyst-specific TCAA reduction rate, 32 L/g-Pd/min, a value similar to the rate of using homogeneously suspended PdNP, but orders of magnitude higher than with other immobilized PdNP systems. In batch tests, over 99% removal of 1 mM TCAA was achieved in 180 min with strong product selectivity (≥ 93%) to acetic acid. During 50 days of continuous operation, over 99% of 1 mg/L influent TCAA was removed, again with acetic acid as the major product (≥ 94%). We identified the reaction pathways and their kinetics for TCAA reductive dechlorination with PdNPs using direct delivery of H2. Sustained continuous TCAA removal, high selectivity to acetic acid, and minimal loss of PdNPs support that the H2−MPfR is a promising catalytic reactor to remove chlorinated DBPs in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116841
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Mar 15 2021


  • Catalytic dechlorination
  • Disinfection byproducts
  • Hollow fiber membrane
  • Palladium nanoparticle (PdNP)
  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCAA)

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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