In spite of a high reduction potential of zero-valent Al (ZVAl), its ability to reduce Cr(VI), a widespread pollutant, to less toxic Cr(III) remains to be uncovered. In the present study, Cr(VI) reduction by ZVAl was conducted to evaluate the potential application of Al as a reductant for Cr(VI). Polyoxometalate (POM, HNa2PW12O40), a catalyst, was used to accelerate Cr(VI) reduction by Al. The reaction of 0.192 mM Cr(VI) on ZVAl was investigated in the presence of N2 or O2 at pH 1. A slight decrease in Cr(VI) concentration was observed on as-received (uncleaned) ZVAl due to the presence of oxide layer with a low surface area (ca. 3.4 × 10-3 m2/g) of ZVAl. On addition of 0.1 mM POM, Cr(VI) reduction on uncleaned ZVAl increased significantly. This is attributed to the unique properties of POM, which has a Brφnsted acidity higher than usual inorganic acids such as H2SO4 and HCl. Thus, POM could remove rapidly the oxidize layer on ZVAl, followed by acting as a shuttle for electron transfer from ZVAl to Cr(VI). Under a N2 atmosphere, one- or two-electron reduction of POM by ZVAl was responsible for Cr(VI) reduction in the early stage of the reaction. However, during reaction with ZVAl over 120 min, three-electron reduction of POM predominated over Cr(VI) reduction. On interaction of O2 with reduced POM, the formation of H2O2 was responsible for subsequent Cr(VI) reduction. The results suggest that POM is an efficient catalyst for Cr(VI) reduction by Al due to the extremely rapid consumption of reduced POM or H2O2 by Cr(VI).
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