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Thermodynamic Characterization of Iron Oxide–Aqueous Fe 2+ Redox Couples

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Gorski Christopher A., Edwards Rebecca, Sander Michael, Hofstetter Thomas B., Stewart Sydney M.,
Project Characterization of the redox properties of iron minerals by combined electrochemical and spectroscopic analyses
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Environmental Science & Technology
Volume (Issue) 50(16)
Page(s) 8538 - 8547
Title of proceedings Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.6b02661


Iron is present in virtually all terrestrial and aquatic environments, where it participates in redox reactions with surrounding metals, organic compounds, contaminants, and microorganisms. The rates and extent of these redox reactions strongly depend on the speciation of the Fe2+ and Fe3+ phases, although the underlying reasons remain unclear. In particular, numerous studies have observed that Fe2+ associated with iron oxide surfaces (i.e., oxide-associated Fe2+) often reduces oxidized contaminants much faster than aqueous Fe2+ alone. Here, we tested two hypotheses related to this observation by determining if solutions containing two commonly studied iron oxides- hematite and goethite- and aqueous Fe2+ reached thermodynamic equilibrium over the course of a day. We measured reduction potential (EH) values in solutions containing these oxides at different pH values and aqueous Fe2+ concentrations using mediated potentiometry. This analysis yielded standard reduction potential (E0H) values of 768 ± 1 mV for the aqueous Fe2+−goethite redox couple and 769 ± 2 mV for the aqueous Fe2+− hematite redox couple. These values were in excellent agreement with those calculated from existing thermodynamic data, and the data could be explained by the presence of an iron oxide lowering EH values of aqueous Fe3+/Fe2+ redox couples.