Reductive transformation of the insensitive munitions compound nitroguanidine by different iron-based reactive minerals

Erika E. Rios-Valenciana, Osmar Menezes, Xi Zhi Niu, Jonathan Romero, Robert A. Root, Jon Chorover, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, Jim A. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nitroguanidine (NQ) is an emerging contaminant being used by the military as a constituent of new insensitive munitions. NQ is also used in rocket propellants, smokeless pyrotechnics, and vehicle restraint systems. Its uncontrolled transformation in the environment can generate toxic and potentially mutagenic products, posing hazards that need to be remediated. NQ transformation has only been investigated to a limited extent. Thus, it is crucial to expand the narrow spectrum of NQ remediation strategies and understand its transformation pathways and end products. Iron-based reactive minerals should be investigated for NQ treatment because they are successfully used in existing technologies, such as permeable reactive barriers, for treating a wide range of organic pollutants. This study tested the ability of micron-sized zero-valent iron (m-ZVI), mackinawite, and commercial FeS, to transform NQ under anoxic conditions. NQ transformation followed pseudo-first-order kinetics. The reaction rate constants decreased as follows: commercial FeS > mackinawite > m-ZVI. For the assessed minerals, the NQ transformation started with the reduction of the nitro group forming nitrosoguanidine (NsoQ). Then, aminoguanidine (AQ) was accumulated during the reaction of NQ with m-ZVI, accounting for 86% of the nitrogen mass recovery. When NQ was reacted with commercial FeS, 45% and 20% of nitrogen were recovered as AQ and guanidine, respectively, after 24 h. Nonetheless, NsoQ persisted, contributing to the N-balance. When mackinawite was present, NsoQ disappeared, but AQ was not detected, and guanidine accounted for 11% of the nitrogen recovery. AQ was ultimately transformed into cyanamide, whose dimerization triggered the formation of cyanoguanidine. Alternatively, NsoQ was transformed into guanidine, which reacted with cyanamide to form biguanide. This is the first report systematically investigating the NQ transformation by different iron-based reactive minerals. The evidence indicates that these minerals are attractive alternatives for developing NQ remediation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119788
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Sep 15 2022


  • Aminoguanidine
  • Iron sulfide
  • Mackinawite
  • Nitrosoguanidine
  • Zero-valent iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Reductive transformation of the insensitive munitions compound nitroguanidine by different iron-based reactive minerals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this