Sulphur From Smelter Gases And Sulphate-Rich Effluents

Maree, J.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2005
In extracting base metals from orebodies, sulphide as well as oxide, the main environmental concern is sulphur, whether in the form of sulphurous gases or sulphate in liquid form. Generally sulphur is in over supply in developed countries mainly because of strict legislation to capture it. In developing countries, on the other hand there is usually a shortage of sulphur because of less strict environ-mental legislation. Africa falls in this second category and the African continent imports substantial amounts of sulphur, despite the fact that large quantities of sulphur are emitted by smelters, thermal power stations, coalmines, fertilizer manufacturers and others. Other than making acid from gaseous emissions, existing methods to capture sulphur from gaseous and liquid effluents are uneconomical and it ends up in the environment either as ammonium sulphate (from gaseous effluents) or as gypsum (from liquid effluents). The CSIR?s Environmentek and Key Structure Holdings have developed a process whereby gaseous sulphur emissions and sulphates in liquid effluents can be economically captured and converted into elemental sulphur and metal carbonates. The elemental sulphur is of high purity as it is precipitated from a gas stream and is readily marketable. The metal carbonates (barium or calcium) can be recycled back to the process or marketed. The only harmful by-product of the process is carbon dioxide. Should natural gas or methane be available, the carbon dioxide could be reduced by about one third. Should solar, wind or hydro energy be available to generate hydrogen, the carbon dioxide emissions would be zero. Employing this technology could make Africa independent of sulphur imports and furthermore reduce the impact of acid rain and seepage of sulphate from gypsum and other waste dumps into the environment.
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