Gil Lozano, C., Davila, A. F., Losa Adams, E., Fairen, A. G., Gago Duport, L. 2017. Quantifying Fenton reaction pathways driven by self-generated H2O2 on pyrite surfaces. Scientific Reports 7, DOI: 10.1038/srep43703
Oxidation of pyrite (FeS2) plays a significant role in the redox cycling of iron and sulfur on Earth and is the primary cause of acid mine drainage (AMD). It has been established that this process involves multistep electron-transfer reactions between surface defects and adsorbed O-2 and H2O, releasing sulfoxy species (e.g., S2O32-, SO42-) and ferrous iron (Fe2-) to the solution and also producing intermediate by-products, such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and other reactive oxygen species (ROS), however, our understanding of the kinetics of these transient species is still limited. We investigated the kinetics of H2O2 formation in aqueous suspensions of FeS2 microparticles by monitoring, in real time, the H2O2 and dissolved O-2 concentration under oxic and anoxic conditions using amperometric microsensors. Additional spectroscopic and structural analyses were done to track the dependencies between the process of FeS2 dissolution and the degradation of H2O2 through the Fenton reaction. Based on our experimental results, we built a kinetic model which explains the observed trend of H2O2, showing that FeS2 dissolution can act as a natural Fenton reagent, influencing the oxidation of third-party species during the long term evolution of geochemical systems, even in oxygen-limited environments.