Indirect electrochemical degradation of acetaminophen: process performance, pollutant transformation, and matrix effects evaluation




Electrochemistry, Chlorination, Pharmaceuticals, Water treatment


Acetaminophen (ACE), a highly consumed pharmaceutical, was degraded in aqueous matrices by reactive chlorine species (RCS) electrogenerated using Ti/IrO2 electrodes. Although this pollutant has been extensively treated by electrochemical techniques, little information is known about its degradation in fresh urine by electrogenerated RCS, and the understanding of its transformations using analyses of atomic charge. In this work, these two topics were discussed. Initially, the effect of current (10-40 mA) and supporting electrolyte (considering typical ions present in surface water and urine (Cl- and SO42-)) on the electrochemical system was evaluated. Then, the kinetics and primary transformations products involved in the elimination of ACE were described. It was found that, in distilled water, the process at 40 mA in NaCl presence led to 100 % of ACE degradation (10 min, 0.056 Ah L-1). Theoretical analyses of atomic charge for ACE indicated that the amide group is the most susceptible to attacks by RCS such as HOCl. On the other hand, degradation of acetaminophen in synthetic fresh urine was slower (21% of degradation after 60 min of treatment) than in distilled water. This was attributed to the other substances in the urine matrix, which induce competition for the degrading RCS.

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Author Biographies

Efraím A. Serna-Galvis, Universidad Remington

Professor, Health Sciencies Deparment


Ricardo E. Palma-Goyes, Universidad del Valle

Professor, Chemical Deparment

Ricardo Antonio Torres-Palma, Universidad de Antioquia

Environmental Remediation and Biocatalysis Group, Exact and Natural Sciences School

Juan Esteban Ramírez, Universidad de Antioquia

Environmental Remediation and Biocatalysis, Exact and Natural Sciences School


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How to Cite

Serna-Galvis, E. A., Palma-Goyes, R. E., Torres-Palma, R. A., & Ramírez, J. E. (2021). Indirect electrochemical degradation of acetaminophen: process performance, pollutant transformation, and matrix effects evaluation. Revista Facultad De Ingeniería Universidad De Antioquia, (106), 113–123.