Oxygen, carbon, and sulfur segregation in annealed and unannealed zerovalent iron substrates

Efthimia Papastavros, Patrick J. Shea, Marjorie A. Langell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Finely ground and pretreated iron substrates known as "zerovalent iron" or "Fe 0" are used as reductants in the environmental remediation of halogenated hydrocarbons, and the composition of their surfaces significantly affects their reactivity. Samples of unannealed and annealed (heat-treated under H 2/N 2) zerovalent iron were analyzed using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES). Surface concentration of the iron and of the impurities observed by XPS and AES, carbon, chlorine, sulfur, and oxygen, were measured before and after soaking in trichloroethylene (TCE) and in water saturated with TCE (H 2O/TCE) to simulate chlorocarbon remediation conditions. Samples pretreated by annealing at high temperature under H 2 contained less iron carbide. The carbide contaminant was evident in both iron and carbon XPS spectra, with binding energies of 709.0 and 283.3 eV for the Fe 2p 3/2 and C Is, respectively. The annealed Fe 0 surface also contained more sulfur. The carbide concentration was essentially unchanged by TCE and H 2O/TCE exposure, whereas the sulfur decreased in proportion to chlorine adsorption following the dechlorination reaction. While oxygen concentration is initially lower on the annealed substrate surface, it rapidly increased during the model TCE remediative treatment process and thus does not represent a significant effect of the annealing process on surface reactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11509-11516
Number of pages8
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 21 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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