Virus removal and inactivation by iron (hydr)oxide-mediated Fenton-like processes under sunlight and in the dark
Advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) have emerged as a promising alternative to conventional disinfection methods to control microbial water quality, yet little is known about the fate of viruses in such processes. In this study, we investigated the fate of MS2 coliphage in AOPs that rely on heterogeneous Fenton-like processes catalyzed by iron(hydr-)oxide particles. Both removal of viruses from solution via adsorption onto particles, as well as true inactivation were considered. Virus fate was studied in batch reactors at circumneutral pH, containing 200 mg L-1 of four different commercial iron(hydr-)oxide particles of similar mesh size: hematite (α-Fe2O3), goethite (α-FeOOH), magnetite (Fe3O4) and amorphous iron(III) hydroxide (Fe(OH)3). The effect of adsorption and sunlight exposure on the survival of MS2 was considered. On a mass basis, all particles exhibited a similar virus adsorption capacity. Normalized by surface area, the adsorption capacity of magnetite (Fe3O4) was one order of magnitude greater than that of to the other particles. Adsorption to three of the particles investigated (α-FeOOH, Fe3O4, Fe(OH)3) caused virus inactivation of 12%, 41%, and 22%, respectively. Exposure of particle-adsorbed viruses to sunlight and H2O2 resulted in efficient additional inactivation, whereas inactivation was negligible for suspended viruses. The observed first-order inactivation rate constants were, 6.6x10-2, 8.7x10-2, 0.55 and 1.5 min-1 for α-FeOOH, α-Fe2O3, Fe3O4 and Fe(OH)3 respectively. In the absence of sunlight or H2O2, no inactivation was observed, except for Fe3O4, which caused virus inactivation via a dark Fenton-like process. Overall our results demonstrate that heterogeneous Fenton-like processes can both physically remove viruses from water as well as inactivate them via a particle-mediated (photo-)Fenton-like process.