Increasing the Selectivity for Sulfur Formation in Biological Gas Desulfurization

Rieks De Rink, Johannes B.M. Klok, Gijs J. Van Heeringen, Dimitry Y. Sorokin, Annemiek Ter Heijne, Remco Zeijlmaker, Yvonne M. Mos, Vinnie De Wilde, Karel J. Keesman, Cees J.N. Buisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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In the biotechnological desulfurization process under haloalkaline conditions, dihydrogen sulfide (H 2 S) is removed from sour gas and oxidized to elemental sulfur (S 8 ) by sulfide-oxidizing bacteria. Besides S 8 , the byproducts sulfate (SO 4 2- ) and thiosulfate (S 2 O 3 2- ) are formed, which consume caustic and form a waste stream. The aim of this study was to increase selectivity toward S 8 by a new process line-up for biological gas desulfurization, applying two bioreactors with different substrate conditions (i.e., sulfidic and microaerophilic), instead of one (i.e., microaerophilic). A 111-day continuous test, mimicking full scale operation, demonstrated that S 8 formation was 96.6% on a molar H 2 S supply basis; selectivity for SO 4 2- and S 2 O 3 2- were 1.4 and 2.0% respectively. The selectivity for S 8 formation in a control experiment with the conventional 1-bioreactor line-up was 75.6 mol %. At start-up, the new process line-up immediately achieved lower SO 4 2- and S 2 O 3 2- formations compared to the 1-bioreactor line-up. When the microbial community adapted over time, it was observed that SO 4 2- formation further decreased. In addition, chemical formation of S 2 O 3 2- was reduced due to biologically mediated removal of sulfide from the process solution in the anaerobic bioreactor. The increased selectivity for S 8 formation will result in 90% reduction in caustic consumption and waste stream formation compared to the 1-bioreactor line-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4519-4527
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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