Isotopic fractionation during reductive dechlorination of trichloroethene by zero-valent iron: influence of surface treatment Journal Articles uri icon

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  • During reductive dechlorination of trichloroethene (TCE) by zero-valent iron, stable carbon isotopic values of residual TCE fractionate significantly and can be described by a Rayleigh model. This study investigated the effect of observed reaction rate, surface oxidation and iron type on isotopic fractionation of TCE during reductive dechlorination. Variation of observed reaction rate did not produce significant differences in isotopic fractionation in degradation experiments. However, a small influence on isotopic fractionation was observed for experiments using acid-cleaned electrolytic iron versus experiments using autoclaved electrolytic iron, acid-cleaned Peerless cast iron or autoclaved Peerless cast iron. A consistent isotopic enrichment factor of epsilon = -16.7/1000 was determined for all experiments using cast iron, and for the experiments with autoclaved electrolytic iron. Column experiments using 100% cast iron and a 28% cast iron/72% aquifer matrix mixture also resulted in an enrichment factor of -16.9/1000. The consistency in enrichment factors between batch and column systems suggests that isotopic trends observed in batch systems may be extrapolated to flowing systems such as field sites. The fact that significant isotopic fractionation was observed in all experiments implies that isotopic analysis can provide a direct qualitative indication of whether or not reductive dechlorination of TCE by Fe0 is occurring. This evidence may be useful in answering questions which arise at field sites, such as determining whether TCE observed down-gradient of an iron wall remediation scheme is the result of incomplete degradation within the wall, or of the dissolved TCE plume by passing the wall.


  • Slater, Greg
  • Sherwood Lollar, B
  • Allen King, R
  • O’Hannesin, S

publication date

  • November 2002