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Wet Air Oxidation of Aqueous Solutions of Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonates

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London SW7 2BY, United Kingdom, Unilever Research Port Sunlight, Quarry Road East, Bebington, Wirral L63 3JW, United Kingdom, and Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Leeds, Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom
Cite this: Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2000, 39, 10, 3659–3665
Publication Date (Web):September 9, 2000
Copyright © 2000 American Chemical Society

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    The semibatch wet air oxidation of aqueous solutions of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS), an anionic surfactant, has been investigated at temperatures of 453 and 473 K, total pressures of 2.8 and 3.3 MPa, and reaction times varying from 40 to 390 min. The concentration of total organic carbon, chemical oxygen demand, and active detergent were followed throughout the reaction, the main intermediates formed were identified by means of electrospray-MS and high-performance liquid chromatography, and a mechanism describing LAS oxidation was proposed. It was found that LAS could easily be oxidized at 473 K to yield a group of molecules with short alkyl chains that do not behave as active detergents. The segments of alkyl chains broken off the reaction intermediates appear primarily as short-chain organic acids that are resistant to total oxidation. Oxidation experiments were also performed at 473 K with solutions of 4-hydroxybenzene sulfonic acid, an intermediate formed during the oxidation of LAS. It was found that 4-hydroxybenzene sulfonic acid could easily be oxidized.

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     University of Leeds.

     Unilever Research Port Sunlight.


     Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine.


     Author whom all correspondence should be addressed. Present and corresponding address:  School of Chemical Engineering, University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Rd, Edinburgh EH9 3JL, United Kingdom. Telephone:  +44 131 6508553. Fax:  +44 131 6506551. E-mail:  [email protected].

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    The available Supporting Information includes electrospray-MS mass spectra of LAS and 4-hydroxybenzene sulfonic acid after oxidation. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

    AD:  Active detergent (% wt/wt)

    COD:  Chemical oxygen demand (mg L-1)

    C:  Concentration (mg L-1)

    LAS:  Linear alkylbenzene sulfonate

    Pt:  Total pressure (MPa)

    PO2:  Oxygen partial pressure (MPa)

    T:  Temperature (K)

    TOC:  Total organic carbon (mg L-1)

    WAO:  Wet Air Oxidation

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    Cited By

    This article is cited by 12 publications.

    1. Darrell A. Patterson,, Ian S. Metcalfe,, Feng Xiong, and, Andrew G. Livingston. Wet Air Oxidation of Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate 1. Effect of Temperature and Pressure. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2001, 40 (23) , 5507-5516.
    2. Ayla Arslan, Eylem Topkaya, Sevil Veli, Deniz Bingöl. Optimization of Ultrasonication Process for the Degradation of Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulfonic Acid by Response Surface Methodology. CLEAN – Soil, Air, Water 2018, 46 (12)
    3. Nelson Saksono, Intan Nugraha, Ibrahim, Irine Ayu Febiyanti. Hydroxyl radical production on contact glow discharge electrolysis for degradation of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate. Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy 2016, 35 (4) , 962-968.
    4. Jose L. Díaz de Tuesta, Cristina García‐Figueruelo, Asuncion Quintanilla, Jose A. Casas, Juan J. Rodriguez. Application of high‐temperature Fenton oxidation for the treatment of sulfonation plant wastewater. Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology 2015, 90 (10) , 1839-1846.
    5. J. Beltrán-Heredia, J. Sánchez-Martín, C. Solera-Hernández. Removal of sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate from water by means of a new tannin-based coagulant: Optimisation studies through design of experiments. Chemical Engineering Journal 2009, 153 (1-3) , 56-61.
    6. S. Yan, B. Subramanian, S. Barnabe, R. D. Tyagi, R. Y. Surampalli. Surfactants. 2009, 279-314.
    7. MEHRAB MEHRVAR, GELAREH BANKIAN TABRIZI. Combined Photochemical and Biological Processes for the Treatment of Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate in Water. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A 2006, 41 (4) , 581-597.
    8. Gelareh Bankian Tabrizi, Mehrab Mehrvar. Pilot-plant study for the photochemical treatment of aqueous linear alkylbenzene sulfonate. Separation and Purification Technology 2006, 49 (2) , 115-121.
    9. Mohd A. Abu-Hassan, Jung K. Kim, Ian S. Metcalfe, Dionissios Mantzavinos. Kinetics of low frequency sonodegradation of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate solutions. Chemosphere 2006, 62 (5) , 749-755.
    10. Mohd A. Abu-Hassan, Dionissios Mantzavinos, Ian S. Metcalfe. Wet air oxidation and ultrasound for the removal of linear alkylbenzene sulfonates from wastewater: the beneficial role of catalysis. Topics in Catalysis 2005, 33 (1-4) , 141-148.
    11. Hiroyuki Yoshida, Omid Tavakoli. Sub-critical Water Hydrolysis Treatment for Waste Squid Entrails and Production of Amino Acids, Organic Acids, and Fatty Acids. JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING OF JAPAN 2004, 37 (2) , 253-260.
    12. Darrell A Patterson, Ian S Metcalfe, Feng Xiong, Andrew G Livingston. Biodegradability of linear alkylbenzene sulfonates subjected to wet air oxidation. Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology 2002, 77 (9) , 1039-1049.

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