Microwaves were applied to reduce the activation energy of chlorobenzene in aqueous solution and enhance its removal using nanoscale zero-valent iron (Fe0) or zero-valent copper (Cu0) particles as dielectric media. When Fe0 and Cu0 particles absorb microwave energy, the electrical potential difference causes the metal electrons to rotate faster, thus producing more heat. The microwave-irradiated metal particles reduced the chlorobenzene activation energy by 6.1 kJ/mol (13.3 kJ/mol versus 19.4 kJ/mol) for Fe0 and 5.4 kJ/mol (15.8 kJ/mol versus 21.4 kJ/mol) for Cu0 and enhanced the chlorobenzene removal 4.1 times (82.8% versus 20.4%) for Fe0 and 3.7 times (72.1% versus 19.5%) for Cu 0. The Fe0 has a higher standard reduction potential than Cu0; it is capable of removing more chlorobenzene than Cu0 (82.8% versus 72.1%). Using the microwave-induced nano-scale iron or copper particle is effective in treating toxic organic substances, as demonstrated in this study.
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