Rate, Efficiency, and Mechanisms of Electrochemical Perfluorooctanoic Acid Degradation with Boron-Doped Diamond and Plasma Electrodes

ÜNER N. B., Baldaguez Medina P., Dinari J. L., Su X., Sankaran R. M.

Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids, vol.38, no.29, pp.8975-8986, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 38 Issue: 29
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.2c01227
  • Journal Name: Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Chimica, Compendex, EMBASE, INSPEC, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.8975-8986
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The removal of per- or polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) has received increasing attention because of their extreme stability, our increasing awareness of their toxicity at even low levels, and scientific challenges for traditional treatment methods such as separation by activated carbon or destruction by advanced oxidation processes. Here, we performed a direct and systematic comparison of two electrified approaches that have recently shown promise for effective degradation of PFAS: plasma and conventional electrochemical degradation. We tailored a reactor configuration where one of the electrodes could be a plasma or a boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrode and operated both electrodes galvanostatically by continuous direct current. We show that while both methods achieved near-complete degradation of PFAS, the plasma was only effective as the cathode, whereas the BDD was only effective as the anode. Compared to the BDD, plasma required more than an order of magnitude higher voltage but lower current to achieve similar degradation efficiency with more rapid degradation kinetics. All these factors considered, it was noted that plasma or BDD degradation resulted in similar energy efficiencies. The BDD electrode exhibited zero-order kinetics, and thus, PFAS degradation using the conventional electrochemical method was kinetically controlled. On the contrary, analysis using a film model indicated that the plasma degradation kinetics of PFAS using plasma were mass-transfer-controlled because of the fast reaction kinetics. With the help of a simple quantitative model that incorporates mass transport, interfacial reaction, and surface accumulation, we propose that the degradation reaction kinetically follows an Eley-Rideal-type mechanism for the plasma electrode, and an intrinsic rate constant of 2.89 × 108 m4 mol-1 s-1 was obtained accordingly. The investigation shows that to realize the true kinetic potential of plasma degradation for water treatment, mass transfer to the interface must be enhanced.