Cyanide Waste Treatment

Metal-plating and metal-treating industries produce the largest amounts of cyanide waste; however, other industries also use cyanide compounds as intermediates. Cyanide solutions are used in plating baths for brass, copper, silver, gold, and zinc. The toxic rinse waters and dumps from these operations require cyanide destruction before discharge.

The most frequently used technique for cyanide destruction is a one- or two-stage chemical treatment process. The first stage raises the pH and oxidizes cyanide to less toxic cyanate. When required, the second stage neutralizes and further oxidizes cyanate to harmless bicarbonate and nitrogen. Neutralization also allows the metals to be precipitated and separated from the effluent.

OR implies a reversible reaction. Since these reactions are carried to completion and are not reversible, the term is misleading. In practice, control is by electrode potential readings. An illustration is the oxidation of cyanide into cyanate with chlorine, according to the following reaction:




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