Collecting of concentrated cyanide solutions in electroplating shops is quite a common occurrence. These accumulations of 4.5 to 9.0 cu m volume, which may be collected over a period of years, are usually in the concentration range of 1 to 3 per cent cyanide and present considerable dangers as they are stored on-site or transported for treatment or disposal. Common technologies available for the treatment of cyanide-containing wastewaters are generally not applicable to concentrated cyanide solutions, and some special technologies which could be applicable, usually show high capital costs and/or complexity of operation which render them unsuitable for smaller plating shop practice.
In recent years, considerable work has been carried out to investigate a reaction of cyanide with polysulphide to form relatively innocuous thiocyanate. However, this reaction has been studied_only for cyanide solutions of low concentration (less than 100 mg/L CN-). This study was undertaken to investigate the feasibility of using the cyanide-polysulphide reaction to detoxify concentrated cyanide solutions (e.g. 2% CN-) and to investigate the initial kinetics of the cyanide-polysulphide reaction.
It was found that the cyanide-polysulphide reaction is moderately exothermic and proceeds very rapidly both at room temperature and at 3°C. This process was capable of reducing cyanide concentrations to non-detectable levels within two weeks at a cyanide-to-polysulphide-sulphur ratio of 1:2 by weight. It was also found that the initial reaction rate kinetics of the cyanide-polysulphide reaction in concentrated solutions differed significantly from previously reported values for solutions low in cyanide concentration and that high concentrations of polysulphides tended to suppress the reaction rate.