Presence of chlorinated organic compounds in water bodies has become a concern among governments, health authorities and general public. Oxidation of organic compounds in water under high temperature and pressure is considered as a promising technique, but usefulness of the technique to mineralize 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is not well understood. This article aimed to elucidate degradation characteristics of 2,4-D in both subcritical and supercritical waters by laboratory batch experiments. 2,4-D degradation, total organic carbon (TOC) removal and dechlorination increased with increasing reaction time and temperature especially in subcritical waters, while dechlorination was a major step. 2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP) and acetic acid were the main degradation intermediates both in subcritical and supercritical waters. Though 2,4-D disappeared almost completely in subcritical waters near critical region (≈99%), significant amounts of TOC and organic chlorine still remained as 2,4-DCP and acetic acid. But TOC removal and dechlorination were significantly enhanced (≈95 and 91% respectively) in supercritical waters. Complete mineralization of 2,4-D in subcritical waters required a considerably longer reaction period, while the mineralization was almost complete within a short reaction period in supercritical waters. This is an important information of practical significance for oxidative degradation of chlorinated pesticides similar to 2,4-D.
Keywords: dechlorination, degradation, subcritical water, supercritical water, total organic carbon (TOC)