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J Hazard Mater. 2012 Dec;243:350-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2012.10.046. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

A fuel-cell-assisted iron redox process for simultaneous sulfur recovery and electricity production from synthetic sulfide wastewater.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei 230009, China.


Sulfide present in wastewaters and waste gases should be removed due to its toxicity, corrosivity, and malodorous property. Development of effective, stable, and feasible methods for sulfur recovery from sulfide attains a double objective of waste minimization and resource recovery. Here we report a novel fuel-cell-assisted iron redox (FC-IR) process for simultaneously recovering sulfur and electricity from synthetic sulfide wastewater. The FC-IR system consists of an oxidizing reactor where sulfide is oxidized to elemental sulfur by Fe(III), and a fuel cell where Fe(III) is regenerated from Fe(II) concomitantly with electricity producing. The oxidation of sulfide by Fe(III) is significantly dependent on solution pH. Increasing the pH from 0.88 to 1.96 accelerates the oxidation of sulfide, however, lowers the purity of the produced elemental sulfur. The performance of fuel cell is also a strong function of solution pH. Fe(II) is completely oxidized to Fe(III) when the fuel cell is operated at a pH above 6.0, whereas only partially oxidized below pH 6.0. At pH 6.0, the highest columbic efficiency of 75.7% is achieved and electricity production maintains for the longest time of 106 h. Coupling operation of the FC-IR system obtains sulfide removal efficiency of 99.90%, sulfur recovery efficiency of 78.6 ± 8.3%, and columbic efficiency of 58.6 ± 1.6%, respectively. These results suggest that the FC-IR process is a promising tool to recover sulfur and energy from sulfide.

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