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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences

Department of Hydrology - Prof. Dr. Stefan Peiffer

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Yan, R; Kappler, A; Peiffer, S (2015): Interference of Nitrite with Pyrite under Acidic Conditions: Implications for Studies of Chemolithotrophic Denitrification, Environmental Science Technology, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b02981
Chemolithotrophic denitrification coupled to pyrite oxidation is regarded a key process in the removal of nitrate in aquifers. A common product is nitrite, which is a strong oxidant under acidic conditions. Nitrite may thus interfere with Fe(II) during acidic extraction, a procedure typically used to quantify microbial pyrite oxidation, in overestimating Fe(III) production. We studied the reaction between pyrite (5–125 mM) and nitrite (40–2000 μM) at pH 0, 5.5, and 6.8 in the absence and presence of oxygen. Significant oxidation of pyrite was measured at pH 0 with a yield of 100 μM Fe(III) after 5 mM pyrite was incubated with 2000 μM nitrite for 24 h. Dissolved oxygen increased the rate at pH 0. No oxidation of pyrite was observed at pH 5.5 and 6.8. Our data imply a cyclic model for pyrite oxidation by Fe(III) on the basis of the oxidation of residual Fe(II) by NO and NO2. Interference by nitrite could be avoided if nitrite was removed from the pyrite suspensions through a washing procedure prior to acidic extraction. We conclude that such interferences should be considered in studies on microbially mediated pyrite oxidation with nitrate.
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