Hydrogen sulfide removal from geothermal fluids by Fe(III)-based additives

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A new method to remove hydrogen sulfide from geothermal fluids during well operation was tested in situ at a geothermal site in Vienna (Austria). For this purpose, ferric iron was added either as granulated iron hydroxide or as FeCl3 solution into a reaction vessel containing the thermal water directly removed from the wells. From the container, the water would be pumped through a particle filter. Physicochemical parameters as well as sulfide were measured constantly over time before and after the filter. It was found that the sulfide was fully removed from the water by both iron additives. While the addition of FeCl3 led first to the formation of black iron(II) sulfide (FeS), which subsequently oxidized in presence of oxygen to Fe(III) hydroxide, no visible change of the granulated iron hydroxide was observed. The reaction time was longer when using the Fe(III) hydroxide additive as compared to the FeCl3 (completed in less than 20 min) but could be enhanced by increasing the amount of added particles. In all experiments the pH was constantly rising during the reaction from about 6.3 to 7.5, which was explained by loss of protons due to purging out of the gaseous H2S. The redox value, which was measured over time, remained rather constant after addition of granulated iron hydroxide (about −350 mV), but strongly increased from −350 mV to −50 mV after adding the FeCl3 suggesting a strong electron-consuming reaction. This can be explained by a two-step reaction: first, the Fe(III) was reduced to Fe(II) by oxidation of either sulfide or thiosulfate to sulfate. Afterward, the Fe(II) oxidized again by dissolved oxygen forming orange Fe(III) hydroxides. The application of the investigated method during operation of geothermal wells could prevent H2S-induced corrosion and would eliminate the toxic effects of this gas.




Regenspurg, S., Iannotta, J., Feldbusch, E., Zimmermann, F. J., & Eichinger, F. (2020). Hydrogen sulfide removal from geothermal fluids by Fe(III)-based additives. Geothermal Energy, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40517-020-00174-9

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