Non-catalytic deep desulfurization process using hydrodynamic cavitation

Student of CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune (CIR-NCL), Nalinee B. Suryawanshi won the award for a non-catalytic deep desulfurization process using hydrodynamic cavitation. They carried their project work under the guidance of Dr Vinay M. Bhandari.

Deep desulphurization of various organics, in general, and transportation fuels, in particular, is a demanding operation, especially from pollution point of view. In this work, a green approach is undertaken for desulfurization of fuels or organics without the use of catalyst or external chemicals/reagents/oxidizing agent using a simple methodology of hydrodynamic cavitation. The process involves pre-programmed mixing of the organic and aqueous phases and can be carried out using simple mechanical cavitating devices such as vortex diode (patented by our group) and orifice. Three organic solvents (n-octane, toluene and n-octanol) containing a known amount of a model sulphur compound (thiophene) up to initial concentrations of 500 ppm were used to verify the proposed method. Very high removal of sulfur content to the extent of 100% was demonstrated. The results were also verified and substantiated using commercial diesel as a solvent. The nature of the organic phase and the ratio of aqueous to organic phase were found to be the most important process parameters.

The developed process has great potential for deep desulfurization of various organics, in general, and for transportation fuels, in particular. The estimated operating cost of  desulfurization using hydrodynamic cavitation is far lower than the present refinery hydrodesulphurization process and adsorptive desulfurization process. The aqueous phase used in the proposed method can be recycled after removing a purge stream (with corresponding make-up water). The process offers many advantages, most importantly ease of operation and mild operating conditions for effective sulphur removal. The proposed method can be effectively implemented for large scale deep desulphurization operations.

The Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu awarded the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Award to Nalinee B. Suryawanshi CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune (CIR-NCL) at the GYTI 2019 Awards function held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on July 06, 2019.

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