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Composition and structure of iron oxidation surface layers produced in weak acidic solutions

Composition and structure of iron oxidation surface layers produced in weak acidic solutions

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 289(1): 157-170

Although oxidation/passivation of iron in basic solution has been extensively investigated, there is very little information on iron corrosion in weak acidic solutions. In this work, iron surface composition and structure, produced in aerobic aqueous solutions ranging from pH 2 to 5, were determined in detail by the use of infrared external reflection spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The most striking observation is that at pH 2 and 3 almost all oxidized iron is dissolved in solution, whereas at pH 4 and 5 the product of iron oxidation is deposited on the iron surface in the form of lepidocrocite, gamma-FeOOH. Detailed iron surface and solution analyses allow the proposition of the following overall oxidation reactions: [EQUATION: SEE TEXT]. At pH 2 and 3, only a very thin surface layer consisting of FeO and Fe(OH)2 with polymeric structure is observed on the iron surface. The amounts of these surface species remain almost constant (2-5 nm) from the first minutes to a few hours of reaction, if pH is kept constant. Nevertheless, with time the akaganeite-like, beta-FeOOH structure is also detected. At pH 4 and 5, the amount of lepidocrocite deposited on the iron surface increases with reaction time. Detailed quantitative evaluation of the lepidocrocite produced at pH 5 and its surface distribution on iron was performed based on the comparison of infrared spectroscopic data with spectral simulation results of assumed surface structures. At pH 4 and 5 and a temperature of 40-50 degrees C, in addition to a very large amount of lepidocrocite other oxy-hydroxide surface species such as goethite (alpha-FeOOH) and feroxyhite (delta-FeOOH), were identified. Addition of Cl- ions to solution at 10(-3) M concentration at pH 5 increases the oxidation rate of iron by about 50%, and lepidocrocite remains the only oxidation product. Similarly, an addition of Fe2+ ions to solution at pH 5 very strongly enhances lepidocrocite formation as well as its conductivity. The latter finding is important for the possible application of metallic iron as a catalyst in redox reactions, for example, for decomposition of difficult-to-biodegrade water pollutants.

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Accession: 004084651

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PMID: 15922350

DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2005.03.062

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