hydrogen sulfide removal from water : "rotten eggs" smell and high corrosion risk

hydrogen sulfide removal

proven and effective hydrogen Sulfide removal to prevent rotten eggs smell in drinking water and corrosion risks in industrial process water

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Hydrogen Sulfide is a gas typically found in well water, result of sulfate-reducing bacteria oxidizing organic matter. It is responsible for “rotten egg” smell and high corrosivity to industrial equipment, therefore removing this contaminant from water is important.

1. Problems associated with Hydrogen Sulfide in water

As little as 0.5 mg/L of Hydrogen Sulfide in water is noticeable with its characteristic “rotten egg” smell. In addition to odor, the presence of Hydrogen Sulfide in water has a big impact on corrosion rates.

The corrosivity caused by Hydrogen Sulfide generates maintenance issues in industrial equipment and distribution systems. As an example, Hydrogen Sulfide removal is critical part of boiler feedwater treatment.

When treated with an oxidation agent, Sulfides in colloidal and precipitate form will also contribute to the formation of turbidity that will require further filtration.

One major concern with Hydrogen Sulfide is its tendency to accelerate corrosion by reacting with metal ions attacking steel, iron, galvanized, and copper even when oxygen is not present. 

2. Main design criteria for Hydrogen Sulfide removal from water

Portion of Hydrogen Sulfide gas in water

Sulfide is present in water in two main forms:

  • As a dissolved gas: Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
  • As a dissolved ion (ionised) : Bisulfide ion (HS-)

At a pH of 7.0, which is common for groundwater, half of the dissolved sulfide is ionised bisulfide [HS1-], and half remains as hydrogen sulfide (gas).

Hence at neutral pH of 7.0, only a portion of the total sulfide can be removed as a gas unless the pH is artificially shifted.

Hydrogen Sulfide removal methods are based on the Sulfide equilibrium above, and include:

  • Aeration, based on mass transfer of a Hydrogen Sulfide gas from a water stream to an air stream
  •  Continuos Oxidation and filtration with granular Manganese Dioxide filtering media
It must be noted that aeration is very PH dependant, as only the gas faction can be removed using this method, hence at PH of 7 a maximum of 50% of Hydrogen Sulfide can be removed by aeration.

3. Removal methods for Hydrogen Sulfide in water

Removal MethodBenefitsDrawbacks
Forced AerationEffective treatment for the gas portionInsufficient removal at neutral pH (ionised Sulfides are not removed).
Oxidation and Manganese Dioxide filtrationEffective and affordableTypically used for Iron and Manganese removal where Hydrogen Sulfide removal is an
additional benefit
Reverse OsmosisEffective for ionised SulfidesGas portion is not removed. Sulfides precipitates can foul RO membranes
Ion ExchangeEffectiveCan foul resins

4. Standard Manganese Dioxide filter for Hydrogen Sulfide based in daily capacity (m3/day)

ModelFiltration Flow
Backwash Flow
Tank Dimensions
D x H (inches)
Pipe Size
HR-SF220.4 (10 m3/day)0.9 (22 m3/day)8×443/4″
HR-SF300.6 (15 m3/day)1.2 (30 m3/day)9×483/4″
HR-SF360.7 (18 m3/day)1.5 (36 m3/day)10×543/4″
HR-SF440.9 (22 m3/day)1.8 (44 m3/day)12×521″
HR-SF651.3 (32 m3/day)2.6 (65 m3/day)13×541″
HR-SF751.6 (38 m3/day)3.2 (75 m3/day)14×651-1/2″
HR-SF881.8 (44 m3/day)3.6 (88 m3/day)16×651-1/2″
HR-SF1152.4 (57 m3/day)4.75 (115 m3/day)18×651-1/2″
HR-SF1453 (72 m3/day)6 (145 m3/day)21×621-1/2″
HR-SF2004.1 (100 m3/day)8.2 (200 m3/day)24×721-1/2″
HR-SF2565.3 (128 m3/day)10.7 (256 m3/day)30×722″
HR-SF4008.2 (200 m3/day)16.5 (400 m3/day)36×722″
HR-SF58012 (290 m3/day)15 (377 m3/day)42×722″
HR-SF63013.1 (315 m3/day)17 (400 m3/day)48×722″
HR-SF100021 (500m3/day)27 (650 m3/day)63×863″

5. Watercore : here to help

Filtering Hydrogen Sulfide from water can be a challenging task. Present ionised or as a gas, it will require the application of different filtration methods.

When deciding the right water treatment for removing Hydrogen Sulfide from water, Watercore can help with a range of solutions that will improve the operational efficiency and final treatment costs.


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