Surface-catalyzed hydrolysis by pyrogenic carbonaceous matter and model polymers: An experimental and computational study on functional group and pore characteristics

Z Li and R Jorn and PRV Samonte and JD Mao and JD Sivey and JJ Pignatello and WQ Xu, APPLIED CATALYSIS B-ENVIRONMENTAL, 319, 121877 (2022).

DOI: 10.1016/j.apcatb.2022.121877

We employed a polymer network to understand what properties of pyrogenic carbonaceous matter (PCM; e.g., activated carbon) confer its reactivity, which we hereinafter referred to as PCM-like polymers (PLP). This approach allows us to delineate the role of functional groups and micropore characteristics using 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) as a model contaminant. Six PLP were synthesized via cross-coupling chemistry with specific functionality (-OH,-NH2, -N(CH3)(2), or -N(CH3)(3)(+)) and pore characteristics (mesopore, micropore). Results suggest that PCM functionality catalyzed the reaction by: (1) serving as a weak base (-OH,-NH2) to attack TNT, or (2) accumulating OH- near PCM surfaces (-N(CH3)(3)(+)). Additionally, TNT hydrolysis rates, pH and co-ion effects, and products were monitored. Microporous PLP accelerated TNT decay compared to its mesoporous counterpart, as further supported by molecular dynamics modeling results. We also demonstrated that quaternary ammonium-modified activated carbon enhanced TNT hydrolysis. These findings have broad implications for pollutant abatement and catalyst design.

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