Tetracycline removal via adsorption and metal-free catalysis with 3D macroscopic N-doped porous carbon nanosheets: Non-radical mechanism and degradation pathway

Wenjin Chen , Yaqian Shen , Ke Zhu , Dongdong He , Jin Huang , Hongmei He , Lele Lei


Received January 19, 2021,Revised , Accepted April 15, 2021, Available online May 13, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 351-366

Recently, metal-based carbon materials have been verified to be an effective persulfate activator, but secondary pollution caused by metal leaching is inevitable. Hence, a green metal-free 3D macroscopic N-doped porous carbon nanosheets (NPCN) was synthesized successfully. The obtained NPCN showed high adsorption capacity of tetracycline (TC) and excellent persulfate (PS) activation ability, especially when calcined at 700 °C (NPCN-700). The maximum adsorption capacity of NPCN-700 was 121.51 mg/g by H-bonds interactions. Moreover, the adsorption process followed pseudo-second-order kinetics model and Langmuir adsorption isotherm. The large specific surface area (365.27 mg/g) and hierarchical porous structure of NPCN-700 reduced the mass transfer resistance and increased the adsorption capacity. About 96.39% of TC was removed after adding PS. The effective adsorption of the catalyst greatly shortened the time for the target organic molecules to migrate to the catalyst. Moreover, the NPCN-700 demonstrated high reusability with the TC removal rate of 80.23% after 4 cycles. Quenching experiment and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) test confirmed the non-radical mechanism dominated by 1O2. More importantly, the C = O groups, defects and Graphitic N acted as active sites to generate 1O2. Correspondingly, electrochemical measurement revealed the direct electron transfer pathway of TC degradation. Finally, multiple degradation intermediates were recognized by the LC-MS measurement and three possible degradation pathways were proposed. Overall, the prepared NPCN had excellent application prospects for removal of antibiotics due to its remarkable adsorption and catalytic degradation capabilities.

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