Theoretical and Experimental Study of the Absorption rate of H2S in CuSO4 Solutions: The Effect of Enhancement of Mass Transfer by a Precipitation Reaction

H. ter Maat, M.Y.M. Al Tarazi, Kees Hogendoorn, John Niederer, Geert Versteeg

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In this paper the desulphurization of gas streams using aqueous copper sulphate (CuSO4) solutions as washing liquor is studied theoretically and experimentally. The desulphurization is accomplished by a precipitation reaction that occurs when sulphide ions and metal ions are brought into contact with each other. Absorption experiments of H2S in aqueous CuSO4 solutions were carried out in a Mechanically Agitated Gas Liquid Reactor. The experiments were conducted at a temperature of 293 K and CuSO4 concentrations between 0.01 and 0.1 M. These experiments showed that the process efficiently removes H2S. Furthermore, the experiments indicate that the absorption of H2S in a CuSO4 solution may typically be considered a mass transfer limited process at, for this type of industrial process, relevant conditions. The extended model developed by Al-Tarazi et al. (2004) has been used to predict the rate of H2S absorption. This model describes the absorption and accompanying precipitation process in terms of, among others, elementary reaction steps, particle nucleation and growth. The results from this extended model and results obtained with a much simpler model, regarding the absorption of H2S in CuSO4 containing aqueous solutions as absorption of a gas accompanied by an instantaneous irreversible reaction were compared with experimental results. From this comparison it appeared that the absorption rate of H2S in a CuSO4 solution can, under certain conditions, be considered as a mass transfer rate controlled process. Under a much wider range of conditions the error that is made by assuming that the absorption process is a mass transfer controlled process, is still within engineering accuracy. Application of the simple model allows for a considerable reduction of the theoretical effort needed for the design of a gas–liquid contacting device, thereby still assuring that the desired gas specification can be met under a wide range of operating conditions. A comparison of the experimental results and the simulated results showed that the extended model gives an under prediction of the H2S absorption rate for the experimental conditions applied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-108
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventIChemE Distillation and Absorption Conference 2006 - Rugby, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sept 20066 Sept 2006


  • Reaction
  • Gas treating
  • Precipitation
  • Kinetics
  • Absorption
  • Desulphurization
  • Metal sulphide
  • n/a OA procedure


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