Hydrogen sulphide, noted for its rotten egg odour, is very toxic and corrosive, particularly in wastewater applications. Every year, petrochemical plants & other industries make thousands of tonnes of this gas are produced as a byproduct of numerous procedures that extract sulphur from petroleum, natural gas, coal, and other materials.
Engineers and scientists at Rice University have now developed a new method for these petrochemical firms to convert the toxic gas into “high-demand” hydrogen gas.
Rice engineer, physicist and chemist Naomi Halas and her team have developed a method that drives energy from light and uses gold nanoparticles to convert hydrogen sulfide and sulfur in one step.
In comparison, current catalytic technology refineries employ the Claus process, which entails a number of processes. It also produces sulphur, but no hydrogen, which becomes water.
“Hydrogen sulphide emissions can result in large fines for industry, but they are also very expensive to clean up,” said Halas, a nanophotonics pioneer whose lab spent years developing light-activated nanocatalysts, said in a statement. “The term ‘game changer’ is overused, but in this case it applies. The implementation of plasmonic photocatalysis should be much less expensive than traditional refurbishment and has the additional potential to turn an expensive burden into an increasingly valuable asset.”
Halas claims that the method is cost-effective, with potential for low implementation costs and great efficacy in the removal of non-industrial hydrogen sulphide from sources such as sewer gas & animal manure.
The remediation procedure is cost-effective and efficient
According to the statement, the scientists dottde the surface of grains of silicon dioxide powder with tiny “islands” of gold. Each island was a gold nanoparticle that interacted with a visible light wavelength. The reactions produced “hot carriers,” which are short-lived, high-energy electrons capable of driving catalysis.
The scientists showed that a bank of LED lights could create “hot carrier photocatalysis” in a lab setup, directly converting H2S into H2 gas and sulphur.
Using renewable solar energy or extremely effective solid-state LED lighting, Halas continued, “the process should be reasonably straightforward to scale up given that it requires only visible light and no external heating.”
Their findings are published in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Energy Letters.