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Large Ponds Hydrogen Sulfide Odor Control

Project Scope

A sugar processing facility was experiencing hydrogen sulfide (H2S) odor issues in their process water stabilization ponds due to anaerobic conditions. The facility’s four identical ponds are 2,500 feet long, 400 feet wide and up to 12 feet deep, with a finger dike down the middle making each pond C-shaped. Each pond can hold approximately 80 million gallons when completely full. Anaerobic conditions develop in the lower layers of these ponds, leading to H2S generation and volatilization. The facility faces stringent seasonal perimeter ambient air quality standards for H2S concentration and is subject to escalating fines with every violation.

In addition, the pond treatment needs are highly variable as high chemical oxygen demand (COD) slugs and/or factory upsets mean that treatment decisions need to be made in real-time, based on measured and expected levels of sulfide, dissolved oxygen, ORP, COD, pH and temperature. Previously, the facility had been utilizing various chemicals, including peracetic acid and catalyzed hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in totes to mitigate H2S, however, the facility was experiencing difficulty maintaining control of the H2S and was concerned with violating their permit. Given the large surface area and volume of the ponds it was essential that a cost-effective control method be identified and implemented. USP Technologies (USP) was contacted to provide a long term, viable solution.


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a colorless gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs; it is heavier than air, poisonous, corrosive, flammable, and explosive. Many facilities, such as this sugar processor, have limits imposed on H2S emissions. Sulfide is generated by sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB’s) in the anaerobic layers of the ponds. H2O2treats H2S by creating a zone of oxidation in which sulfides are oxidized before being released to the atmosphere. The reaction is as follows:

H2O2+ H2S S0 + 2H2O

Sufficient dosing of H2O2also prevents the formation of H2S by boosting dissolved oxygen and creating aerobic conditions hostile towards SRB’s per the following reaction:

2 H2O2O2+ 2 H2O


The sugar facility conducted an extensive survey of possible control methods and evaluated options on a lab scale prior to pilot testing. H2O2was found to be the most cost-effective sulfide control agent in the ponds because of its low H2S treatment cost, ability to preferentially oxidize sulfide, including iron sulfide (FeS) present in the water, permitting long-acting sulfide control by regenerating free ferrous iron (Fe+2) to bind more H2S.

USP provided a program demonstration in 2014, which first involved bringing in tanker truck quantities of H2O2 and pumping this directly into the ponds through fabricated floating distribution nozzles. The desired amount of H2O2was pumped into specific sections of the ponds, which had anaerobic conditions prevailing, and then the truck would move on to the next section requiring treatment. This provided improved mixing, a lower cost of treatment per gallon, better sulfide control and lowered staff labor costs.

Building off of the success of the tanker treatment method, USP developed an engineered storage and dosing equipment system for H2O2 on each of the four ponds. This allows for treatment to be conducted whenever and wherever conditions warranted. Each of the systems have two floating manifold dosing lines, dubbed Peroxidon®, into which H2O2 and pond water are pumped. These lines stretch along the length of each half of the C-shaped ponds, with outlets spaced to distribute H2O2 across the surface of the entire pond. In addition, on each pond 6 – 8 additional dosing lines were installed that allow for concentrated treatment of hotspots including dead zones and the incoming flows. As a result, performance, ease of operation and cost-effectiveness could be improved with the ability to target treatment to specific sections of the pond.

Overall, USP’s full-service hydrogen peroxide program has saved the plant a significant amount of money through reducing fines and increasing operational efficiencies. USP also maintains a consistent presence on-site, aiding in the daily collection of water and air data, which unburdens plant staff and improves the sulfide control decision-making process. In a collaborative and results-focused approach, USP continues to work closely with plant staff to find ways to improve the program’s effectiveness and to continue lowering the overall cost of treatment.

Treatment results include significant reductions in H2S, increased dissolved oxygen, cost savings compared to previous year’s solutions, reduced in-house labor associated with pond treatment and improved safety over tote handling.

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Download Large Ponds Hydrogen Sulfide Odor Control (pdf)

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