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Assessment of wet peroxide oxidation using innovative catalysts for removal of fuel oxygenates from contaminated water

Activity Code: FP7-PEOPLE-IEF-2008
Coordinator:Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ


Fuel oxygenates were developed in the 1970s as octane enhancers. Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is by far the most commonly used oxygenate worldwide. Ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE), having similar physical-chemical properties, is becoming a preferred alternative to MTBE in some countries due to tax incentives connected with biomass-derived ethanol which is utilized in ETBE production. As a result of its physical-chemical properties and resistance to biodegradation, MTBE persists in groundwater for long time.

Several highly MTBE-polluted sites have been identified in Europe in the last years, particularly in Germany. The currently applied processes for removal of MTBE from groundwater (e.g. stripping and adsorption on activated carbon) require high operation costs. With regard to cost-effective management of contaminated sites and accomplishing the new EU chemical legislation there is clearly a need for the development of innovative, safe and efficient technologies of fuel oxygenates treatment. The main scientific aim of the present project is the assessment of wet peroxide oxidation (WPO) of fuel oxygenates (mainly MTBE and ETBE) using innovative catalysts based on Fe-containing zeolites. The project combines two main objectives:

  • improvement of the knowledge about the mechanisms of the catalytic process
  • proof-of-principle of the developed process by means of a pilot scale test at a field site

In the first period laboratory experiments will be conducted involving

  • synthesis and/or selection of new Fe-containing zeolites,
  • characterization of the catalysts,
  • catalytic activity tests under different conditions including column experiments and
  • studies on the reaction mechanism.

In the second period the knowledge acquired in the laboratory experiments will be applied for a pilot scale test under real conditions.

Project Details:

Start Date: 01.03.2009
End Date: 28.02.2011
EU Contribution: 162,130 Euro
Total Costs: 162,130 Euro
Funding Scheme: Intra-European Fellowships (IEF)
Administrative Contact Person: Annette Schmidt, annette.schmidt@ufz.de
Scientific Contact:
Dr Rafael González-Olmos, rafael.gonzalez-olmos@ufz.de