The Sonolytic Destruction of Methyl tert-Butyl Ether Present in Contaminated Groundwater

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Ultrasonic irradiation in the presence of ozone was used to efficiently eliminate methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) from groundwater. The sonolytic degradation of MTBE was investigated in three different reactor configurations and frequencies: vibrating-plate reactor (VPR, 358 kHz), near-field acoustical processor (NAP 20 and 16 kHz), and radial-tube resonator (RTR, 20 kHz). The sonochemical reactors can be ordered in terms of their efficiency with respect to the degradation of MTBE in the following way: VPR > RTR > NAP. The higher elimination rates of MTBE in groundwater by combined ultrasound–ozone systems are attributed to the effective conversion of ozone to the OH radical, even in the presence of high alkalinity. Carbonate radicals, which were formed from the oxidation of bicarbonate by hydroxyl radicals, are shown to react with MTBE via a hydrogen-atom abstraction pathway. Methyl-tert-butyl ether was also rapidly eliminated from the groundwater underlying a major international airport by direct chemical oxidation with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ozone.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2002

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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