This investigation aims at exploring the catalytic oxidation activity of iron-embedded activated carbon (FeAC) and the application for the degradation of phenol in the wet hydrogen peroxide catalytic oxidation (WHPCO). FeAC catalysts were prepared by pre-impregnating iron in coconut shell with various iron loadings in the range of 27.5 to 46.5% before they were activated. The FeAC catalysts were characterised by measuring their surface area, pore distribution, functional groups on the surface, and X-ray diffraction patterns. The effects of iron loading strongly inhibited the pore development of the catalyst but benefited the oxidation activity in WHPCO. It was found that the complete conversion of phenol was observed with all FeAC catalysts in oxidation. High level of chemical oxygen demand (COD) abatement can be achieved within the first 30 minutes of oxidation. The iron embedded in the activated carbon showed good performance in the degradation and mineralisation of phenol during the oxidation due to the active sites as iron oxides formed on the surface of the activated carbon. It was found that the embedding irons were presented in γ-Fe2O3, α-Fe2O3, and α-FeCOOH forms on the activated carbon. The aging tests on FeAC catalysts showed less activity loss, and less iron leaching was found after four oxidation runs.
Keywords: catalytic oxidation, FeAC, hydrogen peroxide, phenol