Detection and removal of dissolved hydrogen sulphide in flow‐through systems via the sulphidation of hydrous iron (iii) oxides

S. W. Poulton*, M. D. Krom, R. Raiswell, R. Bows, J. van Rijn, S. W. Poulton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A novel automated warning and removal system for hydrogen sulphide in aqueous flow‐through systems has been developed based on the sulphidation of ferrihydrite sorbed to zeolite substrate. The system consists of a small flow‐through reaction cartridge with photo‐sensors positioned at the base. During the reaction, sulphide is initially oxidised to elemental sulphur by the ferrihydrite, and Fe2+ is subsequently released to solution. This Fe2+ then reacts with additional dissolved sulphide to form solid phase iron monosulphide. The colour change from orange ferrihydrite to black iron monosulphide is continuously monitored by the photo‐sensors, which provide a rapid and reproducible response (via a voltage change) to pulses of sulphidic water. The response of the photo‐sensors is linear with respect to inflowing sulphide concentration, while the most rapid response to dissolved sulphide occurs at a flow rate of approximately 200 ml min‐1 (equivalent to a hydraulic loading rate of 21 cm min‐1). The presence of phosphate in solution substantially decreases reaction rates due to adsorption to reactive surface sites. However, the response time of the photo‐sensors remains sufficient to provide a rapid indication of sulphidic conditions even in systems with high concentrations of dissolved phosphate. The cartridge has the advantage of partially or completely removing sulphide (depending on flow rate and substrate mass) from an initial pulse of water. At the optimal flow rate for the successful use of the cartridge as a sulphide warning system (200 ml min‐1), required substrate masses for the complete removal of dissolved sulphide (over the experimental range of 0–1000 μM) are relatively small (0.5–2 kg).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)217-229
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are very grateful to Ilia Gelfand for sampling assistance. This study was carried out with financial support from the Commission of the European Communities, Agriculture and Fisheries (FAIR) specific RTD programme, CT98-4160 'Development of recirculating mariculture production systems designed to minimize environmental impact'.


  • Ferrihydrite
  • Flow‐through
  • Hydrogen sulphide
  • Iron oxides
  • Zeolite


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