Catalytic persulfate activation for oxidation of organic pollutants: A critical review on mechanisms and controversies

Na Chen, Donghyun Lee, Hyeonseok Kang, Dongwon Cha, Jaesang Lee, Changha Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Persulfate-based advanced oxidation processes (PS-AOPs) have received increasing attention as new approaches to oxidize refractory organic pollutants in contaminated water and soil. In particular, PS-AOPs using catalysts have been the most intensively studied because a broad spectrum of materials can catalyze the reaction without requiring external input of energy. Despite recent advances in catalytic PS-AOPs, their activation mechanisms are still challenged by uncertainties. Persulfate can be activated via a radical mechanism to generate sulfate radical and hydroxyl radical, as well as via a nonradical mechanism to mediate electron transfer or generate other nonradical reactive oxidants (e.g., single oxygen or high valent metal species). The mechanisms of catalytic persulfate activation and the identities of dominant reactive oxidants remain controversial for many reported catalysts. Herein, we endeavor to address radical and nonradical mechanisms and their identification methods in catalytic persulfate activation, focusing on controversies over widely investigated catalysts. This article will improve the mechanistic understanding of catalytic PS-AOPs and offer a theoretical foundation for exploring novel PS-AOPs with better specificity and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107654
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant (NRF- 2021R1A4A1026364 ) and by the Korea Environment Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) as “The SEM projects” ( 2021002480001 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Catalytic oxidation
  • Mechanistic controversy
  • Nonradical
  • Persulfate
  • Radical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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