Wastewater Remediation: Comparing the Direct and Indirect Oxidation of Phenol

Student Classification

Alyssa Rorie, Senior, Chemical Engineering

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Nirala Singh, Dr. Cailin Buchanan, Wendy Yu

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023


This study compared direct and indirect oxidation of phenol with wastewater remediation applications. For indirect oxidation, 100-500 µM of cerium reacted with 500 µM of phenol. Ce4+ performed poorly as an oxidizer, as the characteristic peak of phenol at 270 nm was not reduced significantly. For direct oxidation, 5 mA was applied to a platinum wire electrode over a period of time in an electrolytic cell. Applying 5 mA for 35 minutes resulted in a new species, hypothesized to be benzoquinone, peaking at 250 nm. This research is a continuation of work done by the student the previous summer, investigating the ability of the Ce4+ ion to serve as an indirect oxidizer for methylene blue. The student performed the totality of this research with occasional supervision, guidance, and instruction from graduate students and the principal investigator. The student assembled the electrolytic cell, made buffers for the experiment, ran potentiostat experiments, analyzed phenol’s oxidation using UV-Vis spectroscopy, modified concentrations of reactants based off of experimental results, and presented weekly data to the lab group in order to receive feedback.

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