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Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Mercury(II) reduction and sulfite oxidation in aqueous systems: kinetics study and speciation modeling

Kurt L. B. Solis A , Go-un Nam A and Yongseok Hong A B

A Department of Environmental Engineering, Daegu University, Gyeongsan-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, 712714, Republic of Korea.

B Corresponding author. Email: yshong@daegu.ac.kr

Environmental Chemistry - https://doi.org/10.1071/EN16169
Submitted: 6 October 2016  Accepted: 16 December 2016   Published online: 23 January 2017

Environmental context. Wastewater contains various substances such as sulfur-containing chemicals and heavy metals including mercury ions. Several technologies have been developed to trap mercury ions; however, mercury can undergo reactions with sulfite and change to its vapour form, which easily escapes to the atmosphere. Here, we devised a model to predict the formation of vapour-phase mercury as a function of sulfite concentration, temperature and water acidity based on coal-fired power plant wastewater.

Abstract. The re-emission of mercury (Hg) as a consequence of the formation and dissociation of the unstable complex HgSO3 is a problem encountered in flue gas desulfurisation treatment in coal-fired power plants. A model following a pseudo-second-order rate law for Hg2+ reduction was derived as a function of [SO32–], [H+] and temperature and fitted to experimentally obtained data to generate kinetics rate values of 0.120 ± 0.04, 0.847 ± 0.07, 1.35 ± 0.4 mM–1 for 40 °C, 60 °C and 75 °C respectively. The rate of reduction of Hg2+ increases with a temperature increase but shows an inverse relationship with proton concentration. Plotting the model-fit kinetics rate constants yields ΔH = 61.7 ± 1.82 kJ mol–1, which is in good agreement with literature values for the formation of Hg0 by SO32–. The model could be used to better understand the overall Hg2+ re-emission due to SO32– happening in aquatic systems such as flue gas desulfurisation wastewaters.

Additional keywords: redox chemistry, water chemistry, wastewater.


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