Sodium Metabisulfite and its reaction with water
August 24, 2014
Q. Hi everyone,
I'm currently working on a mining project for a gold mine that involves the usage of Sodium Metabisulfite.
Sodium Metabisulfite will be mixed with water to create a first solution at 30% in a make up tank (preparation tank + mixer/stirrer) and after that will be deposited in a storage tank of 12 hours autonomy (it's a batch system), this solution will be dosing to the process not before pass through a post-dilution system (static mixer + water) that will make final solution has 10% of concentration.
The environmental conditions are:
Humidity is around 70-90%
Temperature range: 1 °C - 15 °C
Altitude: 4000 m.a.l.s
My doubts are relating of how to handle properly this chemical powder and its solution.
NOTE: This is the basic scheme of the process:
Sodium Metabisulfite contains 65% of SO2 available.
When Sodium MBS get in contact with air becomes oxidize (loss part of its SO2 available)
Due to its hygroscopic properties this powder absorb the moisture contains in the air quickly.
The water they will use is demineralized.
The reaction of Sodium MBS and water is rule by the following:
Na2S2O5 + H2O --> 2NaHSO3
NaHSO3 = Sodium Bisulfite.
However after reading about this chemical it looks like a certain amount of SO2 is released.
The amount of SO2 released depends on temperature, ph, and the % concentration.
So my questions are:
- How hygroscopic is this powder?
- The oxidation process when SMBS get in contact with air, how fast is it?
- Sodium MBS + demineralized water release SO2?
- How much amount of this gas is released?
- How can I control the releasing of SO2?
- Control the Ph level and the solution temperature would prevent detachment of SO2?
- In order to avoid oxidation I read that inject dry air or N2 to the powder before mixing with water would help, but how can I know the amount of Dry air/N2 has to be injected?
- I also read that at low temperatures (just like this case), sodium metabisulfite forms hydrates with 6 and 7 moles of water. Can this affect the reactivity of the powder?
Look at this figure for reference:
Sodium Bisulfite solution at 30%
This will be contained in a closed tank
- This can also release SO2?
- If Sodium Bisulfite solution get in contact with O2 becomes oxidize (to sodium sulfate), but how fast is this oxidation?
- If there a way to eliminate the O2 inside of the tank?
- What would be the best way to evacuate the produced gas outside of the tank?
- Due to I don't know how much gas will be given off, do you consider a scrubber is required?
- Is there another way to extract this gas from the tank?
I have more questions but these ones are the most important.
It will be very helpful for me if someone can clear my doubts up.
Thanks in advance.
Mechanical Engineer - Peru
August 28, 2014
A. Impressive flow sheet, if your interest is using the SO2 to precipitate gold from aqua regia, Why not use SO2 gas? it will save you a lot of steps and at the end you have much less spent solution to treat.
I normally would think that your chemical supplier should have a lot of your question answered.
- Mays Landing, New Jersey, USA
December 11, 2018
A. I've used SMBS for 5 years now (Zn depression in Cu circuit). It's hard to use this product and not produce SO2. We get it in 1200 kg FIBC bags with an inner liner and still have problems with gas production in hot humid days via hygroscopy. The mix and holding tank have to be sealed and vented or you will gas out the tank room. And you can expect rampant scaling of all slurry handling equipment downstream. Research this product thoroughly before implementation.Jim Blair
metallurgy - Timmins, ON, Canada
A. Probably the majority of people in the chrome plating industry (and those platers still using hexavalent chromates) use SMBS to reduce hexavalent chromium to trivalent. I realize that this is not quite responsive to the question about using it for gold refining, but I mention it on this metal finishing site because every approach has advantages & disadvantages and I would not want readers to think it is excessively dangerous or non-useful for reduction of hexavalent chromium.
In the plating industry we tend to use smaller amounts (often purchased in 50 pound bags rather than 1200 kg) and higher dilution ratios. It does evolve fumes, but if the mixing tank is simply equipped with a loose cover, and if it is applied in treating wastes that are closer to pH 5.0 than 2.0, the smell & fuming are not major issues.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"
December 21, 2018
A. Hi Ted
- Port Melbourne, Australia
A. Thanks Geoffrey. My own practical experience, without a lot of chemistry knowledge, is that SMBS works to reduce chromium from hexavalent to trivalent up to a pH of nearly 5.0. While it is not instantaneous and may take a minute or two at pH 4.5 instead of 2.5, my experience is that it will reduce the chromium without a lot of fuming and wastage to fumes. Isn't it true that the SO2 we smell is the SO2 we wasted, so we should keep the pH as high as possible as long as it still works? While I'm not retired, it probably has also been 20 years since I designed wastewater treatment systems, so my numbers could be off as well, but I don't think so :-)
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"
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