The removal of micropollutants is an important environmental and health issue. Electro-Fenton offers an electrochemical advanced treatment that is particularly effective for the breakdown of aromatic contaminants. Due to the wide variety of chemicals, it is preferable to analyze model contaminants, such as phenol, when optimizing and assessing the efficacy of a novel treatment process. In this study, we therefore made use of innovative types of electrode material and optimized operating parameters (current density and aeration rate) for the removal of phenol by electro-Fenton, with a view to maximize the energy efficiency of the process. By determining the best current density (1.25 mA cm−2), frequency of aeration (continuous) and by using a boron-doped diamond (BDD) anode, it was possible to achieve over 98.5% phenol (1 mM) removal within 1.5 h. BDD further outcompeted platinum as anode material in terms of mineralization rate and yield, and displayed low energy consumption of 0.08 kWh (g-TOC)−1, about one order of magnitude lower than other advanced oxidation processes, such as UV/TiO2 and UV/O3. Furthermore, a carbon cloth anode proved even more cost-effective than BDD if the end goal is the removal of phenol by electro-Fenton instead of complete mineralization.

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