Redox behavior of magnetite: Implications for contaminant reduction

Christopher A. Gorski, James T. Nurmi, Paul G. Tratnyek, Thomas B. Hofstetter, Michelle M. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


The factors controlling rates of contaminant reduction by magnetite (Fe3O4) are poorly understood. Here, we measured the reduction rates of three ArNO2 compounds by magnetite particles ranging from highly oxidized (x ) Fe2+/Fe3+ ) 0.31) to fully stoichiometric (x ) 0.50). Rates of ArNO2 reduction became almost 5 orders of magnitude faster as the particle stoichiometry increased from x ) 0.31 to 0.50. To evaluate what was controlling the rate of ArNO2 reduction, we measured apparent 15N kinetic isotope effects ( 15N-AKIE) values for nitrobenzene and magnetite open-circuit potentials (EOCP). 15N-AKIE values were greater than unity for all magnetite stoichiometries investigated, indicating that mass transfer processes are not controlling the rate of ArNO2 reduction by magnetite.EOCP measurementsshowedthat theEOCP for magnetite was linearly related to the stoichiometry,with more stoichiometric magnetite having a lower potential. Based on these results, we propose that conceptual models that incorporate both redox and Fe2+ diffusion processes, rather than those that rely solely on diffusion of Fe2+, are more appropriate for understanding contaminant reduction by magnetite. Our work indicates that particle stoichiometry should be considered when evaluating rates of contaminant reduction by magnetite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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