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Sodium permanganate (NaMnO4) and potassium permanganate (KMnO4) are also utilized by GCI during treatment programs to reduce contaminant concentrations. Permanganate is a strong oxidizer, but not as strong as the hydroxyl free radical generated by Fenton’s reagent. The exact chemical reaction is dependent upon the organic contaminants present and the oxidant utilized. For example, trichloroethene (C2HCl3) is oxidized by sodium permanganate to form carbon dioxide (CO2), manganese dioxide (MnO2), sodium ions (Na +), hydronium ion (H +), and chloride ions (Cl -), according to the reaction:

The general reaction that occurs between permanganate and an organic contaminant is as follows:

Treatable Contaminants

Permanganates are best used to treat low concentrations of the following contaminants:

  • Chlorinated Ethenes (PCE, TCE, DCE, and VC)
  • Explosives

Permanganates do not readily oxidize:

  • Petroleum hydrocarbons (benzene). Permanganates will oxidize the side chains of the petroleum hydrocarbons (requires heat) but will not oxidize the benzene ring.
  • Chlorinated Ethanes (1,1,1-TCA)
  • NAPL

Limitations of Permanganate

Strengths of Permanganate
Does not oxidize petroleum hydrocarbons and ethanes Low concentrations of dissolved chlorinated solvents (ethenes)
Cannot break down NAPL (manganese dioxide issues) High alkalinity / carbonate areas
Bullet Contaminant concentrations >1% solubility Not sensitive to pH
Tighter soils (clays) Time and cost savings
Shallow contamination
(grade to ~5 ft)
Areas with utilities
    Longer persistence in subsurface

Chemical Oxidation
Fenton’s Reagent
Bullet Persulfate
Bullet Ozone


Permanganate Oxidation pathway for chlorinated ethylenes
Bullet Permanganate Oxidized the Side-chains of Petroleum Hydrocarbons [view]
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