The chemistry of ultrasonic degradation of organic compounds
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The destruction of toxic organic molecules using advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) is a potent tool for pollution control and environmental protection. Ultrasound is a convenient and effective method of generating hydroxyl radicals which is the key oxidant in AOPs. This review describes the use of ultrasound and associated chemical reactions, with and without additives, as a powerful means of remediating water contaminated with organic pollutants. After a brief introduction to ultrasound and sonochemistry, their application for the oxidation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenol and substituted phenols is considered. Next is the decomposition of chlorinated phenols, and other chlorinated organics, then removal of recalcitrant smaller organic molecules. A discussion follows of recent work that has investigated the effects of initial concentration of substrates; the use of different ultrasonic frequencies; the inclusion of oxidising species, inorganic particles, or salts and their contribution to enhanced degradation. Finally, brief comments are made on the status of ultrasound as an AOP treatment.