Sulfuric acid during zinc production

Zinc mining is a process of metal zinc extraction through mining. Zinc metal is produced using the method of extractive metallurgy which consists of the following steps: the metal ore is first finely ground, then it is put through froth flotation to separate minerals from gangue. The last step results in zinc sulfide ore concentrate which consists of 50 zinc, 32% sulfur, 13% iron, and 5% SiO2. The concentrate is later roasted to obtain zinc oxide along with sulfur dioxide. The latter is used to produce sulfuric acid which is necessary for the leaching process. Therefore, sulfuric acid is a major component of zinc production, but also one of the most prevalent pollutants that occur during the process.

The amount of sulfuric acid vapour or mist that is produced varies depending on the method of zinc production. The vapours might escape the tanks filled with acid causing harm to human health and the production process. Exposure to strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid may occur by inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact. Workers in zinc refining are considered to have low exposure to sulfuric acid vapours, however, even limited exposure to the mist may result in detrimental effects on human health. There has been sufficient evidence for the carcinogenic effects of sulfuric acid to humans.

Zinc production results in a production of an amount of sulfuric acid that is sufficient enough to cause severe harm to the production of zinc and to the workers’ health. Therefore there is a need for pollution control techniques and solutions. The use of wet air scrubbers is popular among industry professionals as they are highly effective at collecting both aerosol and particulate matter, they are cost-efficient, and can operate in both low and high temperatures.

Scroiler™ is a new type of wet air scrubber that has been tested at a zinc production plant. We installed a Scroiler™ system to absorb this pollutant at one of zinc production plants in Kazakhstan. The air treatment quality appeared 10% higher than for Venturi scrubbers that have been previously installed. The client had noticed especially the easy maintenance and low operation cost of the Scroiler™ system.

Being a new type of wet air scrubber, Scroiler™ cleans air from gases, dust, vapors and other admixtures using water or other cleaning liquid. Scroiler™ produces the cleaning mist differently from other scrubber systems, which results in running costs that are much lower than for a common wet air scrubber. Scroiler™ is the new type of wet air scrubber that saves water.

If you are interested in Scroiler™, please contact us at info@optromix.com

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