Reductive destruction of multiple nitrated energetics over palladium nanoparticles in the H2-based membrane catalyst-film reactor (MCfR)

Chen Wei Zheng, Min Long, Yi Hao Luo, Xiangxing Long, Yuqiang Bi, Dandan Zhou, Chen Zhou, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nitrated energetics are widespread contaminants due to their improper disposal from ammunition facilities. Different classes of nitrated energetics commonly co-exist in ammunition wastewater, but co-removal of the classes has hardly been documented. In this study, we evaluated the catalytic destruction of three types of energetics using palladium (Pd0) nano-catalysts deposited on H2-transfer membranes in membrane catalyst-film reactors (MCfRs). This work documented nitro-reduction of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), as well as, for the first time, denitration of hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) and pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) over Pd0 at ambient temperature. The catalyst-specific activity was 20- to 90-fold higher than reported for other catalyst systems. Nitrite (NO2) released from RDX and PETN also was catalytically reduced to dinitrogen gas (N2). Continuous treatment of a synthetic wastewater containing TNT, RDX, and PETN (5 mg/L each) for more than 20 hydraulic retention times yielded removals higher than 96% for all three energetics. Furthermore, the concentrations of NO2 and NH4+ were below the detection limit due to subsequent NO2 reduction with > 99% selectivity to N2. Thus, the MCfR provides a promising strategy for sustainable catalytic removal of co-existing energetics in ammunition wastewater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number127055
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Feb 5 2022


  • Denitration
  • Hollow fiber membrane
  • Membrane catalyst-film reactor
  • Nitrated energetics
  • Palladium catalysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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