A compound for selective sulfate precipitation from aqueous solutions


Sulfate removal is necessary to prevent the scaling of water injection equipment in oil and gas recovery and in desalination. Current chemical-based methods often use calcium or barium compounds to remove sulfate. However, barium is less selective for sulfate than the invented compound, and calcium is less effective at complexing sulfate.

Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a simple method for sulfate removal from aqueous solution, at levels likely to be seen in seawater, using a molecule that has never been used before in a chemical water treatment. The molecule complexes to sulfate, effectively removing it from the solution. Based on current results, at least 95% of sulfate can be removed in under an hour. The mentioned molecule can also be regenerated for continued use.


Potential benefits

  • High efficiency: Increased speed of sulfate precipitation; preliminary results show that the molecule can remove ~95% of sulfate from water in less than one hour
  • Simple and inexpensive process: Sulfate precipitation is a one-step process; compound/molecule synthesis is inexpensive; molecule can be regenerated for continued use.

Potential applications

  • Nuclear waste process
  • Desalination plants
  • Oil field injection


ANU is seeking feedback and potential partnering opportunities with industry to support further development and testing of the technology. Particularly, ANU would like to better understand:

  • Industry requirements for integration of the technology into existing water treatment systems
  • Industry requirements to demonstrate the molecule's effectiveness at large scale testing
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