Important progress in biosulfurization of coal and self-capture of CO2 made by the advanced functional membranes and membrane process team

News Source&Photographer:School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Editor: Long Zheyuan

Reviewer: Wang Zhenhua


Recently, the Advanced Functional Membranes and Membrane Process Team of BIT has made important progress in biosulfurization of coal and self-capture of CO2. Relevant research results were published with the title of Development of rapid CO2 utilizing microbial ecosystem onto the novel & porous FPUF@nZVI@TAC@ASP hybrid for green coal desulphurization on Chemical Engineering Journal(impact factor 13.273), the top authoritative journal of chemical industry. The first author of the essay is Muhammad Ahmad, the postdoctor of School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. The corresponding authors are Professor Zhao Zhiping and Associate Researcher Cai Weiwei.

Coal is still an important global energy substance. Its main constituent elements are C, N, S(4-4.5%) etc. It will release a large amount of SO2, CO2 and other gases when burning, which will lead to acid rain, industrial smog, greenhouse effect and a series of other environmental problems. Therefore, desulfurization treatment is required before the coal is burned. At present, coal biological desulfurization technology generally uses a single strain, which cannot efficiently remove organic sulfur and inorganic sulfur from coal at the same time. And the use of coal as a carbon source nutrient by heterotrophic microorganisms will reduce the quality of coal.


Based on the poor effect of the above coal bi-desulfurization and the background of the country’s strong advocacy of the development of carbon-neutral technology, the research group designed and synthesized an innovative biological system for efficient coal desulfurization, which can achieve rapid utilization of CO2 at the same time. The system uses functional polyurethane(FPUF) composites loaded with nano-zero valence iron(nZVI) as a biological carrier for the simultaneous growth of Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, Thiobacillus denitrificans(TAC), and co-cultured with activated sludge bacteria(ASP) to form a symbiotic biological system, with CO2 as the main carbon source. Laboratory coal desulfurization experiments show that the biological system can achieve synchronous removal of various pollutants such as S (43.3 kg/m3/day),Fe (20 kg/m3/day),NH4+ (0.08 kg/m3/day),NO3 (0.05 kg/m3/day),PO43- (0.01 kg/m3/day), etc., with a CO2 capture capacity of up to 54 kg/m3/day and a maximum coal desulfurization rate of 90%. And with the increase of desulfurization rate, the CO2 capture amount increases, which proves the dual role of this technology. Bases on this study, it is estimated that the biological system can remove 180g of S from 1kg of coal and use 4.5g of CO2, which has good application prospects and can provide a new way for coal biological desulfurization and CO2 capture and utilization.


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About the author:

Professor Zhao Zhiping, Professor and Doctoral Supervisor of school of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, BIT, Review Expert of National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Key R&D Program and National “863” New Materials, Directer of international Clean Energy Forum(Macao), Chairman of The Supervisor of Beijing Membrane Society, Editorial Board Member of Membrane Science and Technology, Editorial Board Member of Adv.Membr., Member of the Expert Committee of the State Key Laboratory of Separation Membrane and Membrane Engineering, etc. His main research directions are membrane materials and separation technology, biomass energy and chemical industry. He has presided over more than 10 projects such as the Key Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Key R Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Beijing Municipal Natural Science Foundation. So far, he has published more than 150 academic papers, including more than 80 journal papers included in SCI and 11 authorized patents.

Cai Weiwei, Associate Researcher of Beijing Institute of Technology, Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Fellow, Nanyang Technology University, Singapore, mainly focuses on membrane water treatment technology, biomass resources, membrane material design and preparation. He currently presides over a number of projects such as the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Key R&D Program (sub-project), and the enterprise horizontal project, and has published more than 10 SCI papers in authoritative journals such as Chem. Eng. J.,J. Membr. Sci. and Water   Res  . as the first/corresponding reporter, and served as a guest editor of the SCI journal Membranes and Sustainability.