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Cyanide Electrolysis Waste water treatment

Q. Recently somebody suggested "Cyanide Electrolysis" for destruction of concentrated cyanide waste water. Would somebody help me as to where I can find some more information about Cyanide destruction using Electrolysis ?

Ajit Menon
- Rapid City, South Dakota

A. In my experience, electrolytic treatment will bring "free" cyanide down to 100 - 200 ppm. It's necessary to add some chloride ion to the waste - 1 - 2 g/l should be ample. The cathodes can be mild steel, or whatever. The anodes need to be made of some material that will stand up to this service. Those noble metal oxide electrodes often called Dimensionally Stable Anodes (DSA) are made by several companies and ought to work. Graphite I know works, but it gets eaten up in the process.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

A. The Electrolytic destruction of cyanide waste can be accomplished by adding common salt to the waste liquid at 25 g per litre and electrolizing between stainless steel cathodes and graphite anodes at about 6 volts DC.

The waste liquid must be maintained below 25 °C by use of a chiller or else the chlorine will escape before it reacts with the cyanide.A waste containing 5 g/ lit cyanide can be successfully treated in about 4 hours.The completion of the treatment can be monitored with starch paper [affil link] and iodide turning blue.Best of luck!

Parameswaran Iyer
- Hyderabad, AndhraPradesh, INDIA

A. Ajit,

This technology has been around for a long time (30-40 yrs) since Dr. Leslie Lancy patented an electrochemical destruction system back in the mid 60's. It hasn't gotten as much attention, mostly because of the issues associated with maintenance costs or the electrodes. Chemically, nothing is cheaper than an electron, though, and material science (and competitive pricing) have caught up to the technology base now.


tom baker
Tom Baker
wastewater treatment specialist - Warminster, Pennsylvania

Q. Dear Sir,

I would like to know the best available method for destruction of low concentration of cyanide ( below 10 mg/litre) present in weak ammoniacal liquor(coke plant flushing liquor). The residual cyanide concentration should be below 0.2 mg/litre sincerely

balaram bhattacharya
- burnpur, west bengal, India

Q. Greetings,

Recently I was asked to write a report about Electrolysis and how can we use it in wastewater treatment.

I have basic knowledge regarding the "Electrolysis" process. And that the negative charged ions go to the anode and the positive charged ions go to the cathode. But I can not understand the process of treating waste water with this technology.


Sultan Alhamdan
- Manchester, Lancashire, UK
March 16, 2013

A. Hi Sultan. It's difficult to take a vague and sometimes misused word like "electrolysis" and then ask how any and processes described by that vague word might be used to solve undefined problems :-)

But electrical current can be used to electroplate metals out of wastewater, and electrolysis can be used to oxidize cyanide as described previously in this thread. Determining whether the generation of hydrogen, oxygen, chlorine, and/or caustic by electrolysis has any practical value in wastewater treatment would probably require starting with a scenario where one of those chemicals is perceived to be needed for the treatment. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
March 19, 2013

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