Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 599–603 | Cite as

Efficient metoprolol degradation by heterogeneous copper ferrite/sulfite reaction

  • Long Chen
  • Tao Luo
  • Shaojie Yang
  • Jing Xu
  • Zizheng Liu
  • Feng Wu
Original Paper


Metal/sulfite systems are currently used for SO 4 •− generation and oxidative removal of organic contaminants. However, homogeneous metal/sulfite systems are limited because their working pHs must be acidic and metal ions cannot be separated from the bulk reaction solution. As a consequence, these drawbacks have severely limited the application of metal/sulfite systems in real conditions. To address these issues, we tested the use of copper ferrite (CuFe2O4), a ferromagnetic nanoparticle, to catalyze sulfite oxidation for the degradation of the metoprolol drug. The reaction mechanism was investigated by electron spin resonance, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and radical quenching assay. The effects of pH, CuFe2O4, and sulfite dosages were also assessed. Results show that SO 4 •− was the primary radical responsible for metoprolol degradation. Higher pHs induced more metoprolol degradation using CuFe2O4/sulfite. Moreover, CuFe2O4 remained morphologically intact and catalytically active after four batches of recycling. Overall, our findings show that CuFe2O4/sulfite can effectively degrade water contaminants in alkali pH and withhold catalyst activity after multiple reuses, therefore addressing the issues associated with homogeneous metal/sulfite systems.


Sulfate radical Advanced oxidation process Sulfite Metoprolol Copper ferrite Pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) 



This work was supported by the Science and Technology Project of Guangdong Province (No. 2014B030301055). Comments from anonymous reviewers are also appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hubei Key Lab of Biomass Resource Chemistry and Environmental Biotechnology, School of Resources and Environmental ScienceWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering ScienceWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.School of Civil EngineeringWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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