Chemical Engineering Faculty, Sahand University of Technology, P.O. Box 51335-1996, Sahand New Town, Tabriz, Iran; Environmental Engineering Research Center (EERC), Sahand University of Technology, P.O. Box 51335-1996, Sahand New Town, Tabriz, Iran. Electronic address: [Email]
Plasma-treated goethite nanoparticles with high surface area and improved density of surface hydroxyl groups were synthesized from natural goethite (NG) using Argon (PTG-Ar) and Nitrogen (PTG-N2) as plasma environment to enhance the performance of heterogeneous catalytic ozonation process. Synthesized samples were characterized by FESEM, EDX, TEM, XRD, XPS, BET-BJH, FTIR, AAS and pHPZC. Results indicated a significantly different morphology for the prepared samples with negligible change in crystal structure. Furthermore, the catalytic activity and synergy factor of the NG and PTG nanocatalysts were evaluated for degradation and mineralization of Sulfasalazine antibiotic (SSZ) as an environmental hazardous contaminant. The highest removal efficiency was achieved 96.05 % under the optimal operating conditions. The kinetic study confirmed the pseudo-first-order reaction for the degradation process. Moreover, the dissolved ozone concentration and effect of organic and inorganic salts were studied in order to assess the reactive oxidant species (ROSs) and catalyst active sites in the process. The mechanism investigation showed the catalytic ozonation of SSZ was mainly performed by successive attacks of hydroxyl radicals (•OH), superoxide radicals (O2-) and direct ozone molecules. Environmentally-friendly modification of the NG, negligible iron leaching, successive reusability and superior catalytic activity are the major benefits of the PTG nanoparticles.