Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 34, Supplement 1, pp 105–113 | Cite as

The role of black carbon as a catalyst for environmental redox transformation

  • Seok-Young Oh
  • Jong-Gil Son
  • Ock-Taeck Lim
  • Pei C. Chiu
Original Paper


Black carbon (BC) is an important class of geosorbents that control the fate and transport of organic pollutants in soil and sediment. We previously demonstrated a new role of BC as an electron transfer mediator in the abiotic reduction of nitroaromatic and nitramine compounds by Oh and Chiu (Environ Sci Technol 43:6983–6988, 2009). We proposed that BC can catalyze the reduction of nitro compounds because it contains microscopic graphitic (graphene) domains, which facilitate both sorption and electron transfer. In this study, we assessed the ability of different types of BC—graphite, activated carbon, and diesel soot—to mediate the reduction of 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT) and 2,4-dibromophenol (DBP) by H2S. All three types of BC enhanced DNT and DBP reduction. H2S supported BC-mediated reduction, as was observed previously with a thiol reductant. The results suggest that BC may influence the fate of organic pollutants in reducing subsurface environments through redox transformation in addition to sorption.


Black carbon Graphite Activated carbon Soot Electron transfer Redox mediator 



This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (2009-0064688).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seok-Young Oh
    • 1
  • Jong-Gil Son
    • 1
  • Ock-Taeck Lim
    • 2
  • Pei C. Chiu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of UlsanUlsanSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Automotive EngineeringUniversity of UlsanUlsanSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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