To avoid problems related to the discharge of sulfidic spent caustics, a biotechnological process is developed for the treatment of gases containing both hydrogen sulfide and methanethiol. The process operates at natron-alkaline conditions (>1 mol L-1 of sodium- and potassium carbonates and a pH of 8.5-10) to enable the treatment of gases with a high partial CO 2 pressure. In the process, methanethiol reacts with biologically produced sulfur particles to form a complex mixture predominantly consisting of inorganic polysulfides, dimethyl disulfide (DMDS), and dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS). The effect of these organic sulfur compounds on the biological oxidation of sulfide to elemental sulfur was studied with natron-alkaliphilic bacteria belonging to the genus Thioalkalivibrio. Biological oxidation rates were reduced by 50% at 0.05 mM methanethiol, while for DMDS and DMTS, this was estimated to occur at 1.5 and 1.0 mM, respectively. The inhibiting effect of methanethiol on biological sulfide oxidation diminished due to its reaction with biologically produced sulfur particles. This reaction increases the feasibility of biotechnological treatment of gases containing both hydrogen sulfide and methanethiol at natron-alkaline conditions.
- Spent caustics
- Sulfide oxidation