hydrogen sulfide removal from biogas

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The compound Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) has many properties and is a highly hazardous, flammable, and colorless substance. It emits a foul smell similar to rotten eggs. The gas is also known by names like stink damp gas, manure gas, swamp gas, sewer gas, etc. Most commonly people smell these gasses around crude petroleum, hot springs, and natural gas areas.

H2S solution is the result of the bacterial breakdown of animal and human waste with organic compounds. Also, many types of industrial activities result in the formation of this gas solution like natural gas/petroleum drilling, refining, coke ovens, kraft paper mills, tanneries, treating wastewater, etc. It is also possible to get hydrogen sulfide removal from biogas form as H2S solution.

H2S Solution Hazards

In its gaseous form, the solution is heavier compared to surface air and it travels along the ground. The gas accumulation is mostly seen in low, enclosed, and poor ventilation areas like manholes, basements, underground vaults, sewer lines, manure pits, etc. While you’re working with the gas in confined spaces, you must use the right procedures to know about all probable hazards.

Direct exposure to the gas is possible through inhalation and it is absorbed rapidly through the lungs. Skin absorption of the gas is at a minimum. It is simple to identify the gas smell through its foul odor of a “rotten egg” in low concentrations. However, when exposed to higher concentrations for a long time, a person isn’t able to identify the gas smell even with its presence around due to olfactory fatigue.

This might happen at a rapid pace in higher concentrations and the ability of smelling gas can be instantaneously lost. Therefore you shouldn’t depend only on your olfactory sense for indicating continuous hydrogen sulfide presence for hazardous concentration warning.

H2S Exposure Impact on Health

The chemical H2S acts as a chemical asphyxiant and an irritant and it has a significant impact on both the nervous system and oxygen utilization. The impact on overall health from its exposure can vary based on duration and level of exposure. With repeated exposure, negative health effects can even be felt at tolerance amounts.

With low concentrations, you can easily irritate the nose, respiratory systems, and throat (e.g., eye tearing/burning, cough, and shortness of breath). Breathing difficulties can be possible with asthmatics. Such health effects can get delayed by hours or days, with low concentrations of the H2S solution. Prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to headaches, eye inflammation, irritability, digestion disturbances, insomnia, weight loss, etc.

Moderate concentrations can result in severe respiratory and eye irritation and all possible symptoms are facing breathing difficulty, coughing, fluid accumulation in lungs), dizziness, headache, staggering, excitability, nausea, and vomiting.

With higher concentrations, the chemical solution can also lead to convulsions, shock, respiratory failure, quick unconsciousness, coma, death. These effects are possible only in a few breaths, and possibly with a single breath as well.

Dangerous Atmospheres for H2S Solutions

H2S solution gas being at 100ppm or above is Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH). Getting into such an atmosphere would require either Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with at least 30 minutes of working life.

For H2S levels of less than 100 ppm, you can use an air-purification respirator, assuming that canister/cartridge is fine for the hydrogen sulfide. With the availability of a respirator, eye irritation can be easily prevented.

Hydrogen Sulfide in liquid form can result in frostbite upon contact for h2s treatment. With wet clothing, you can avoid sources of ignition and you can remove isolate and clothing in a safe area for allowing evaporation of liquid.


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