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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Ecological Risk Assessment

Identification of a Crystalline Cyanide-Containing Compound in Blast Furnace Sludge Deposits


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 6, p. 1927-1932
    Received: Dec 27, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): tim.mansfeldt@ruhr-uni-bochum.de
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  1. Tim Mansfeldt *a and
  2. Reiner Dohrmannb
  1. a Arbeitsgruppe Bodenkunde und Bodenökologie, Fakultät für Geowissenschaften, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany
    b Institut für Mineralogie und Lagerstättenkunde, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, D-52056 Aachen, Germany


During blast furnace operation, a cyanide-containing muddy waste referred to as blast furnace sludge is generated in large amounts. In Germany it was and is still common practice to pump this sludge into surface deposits. Depending on species, cyanide has very different toxicity. To this day there is no information about the type of cyanide occurring in blast furnace sludge deposits. In order to identify the type of cyanide we investigated by means of wet chemical and powder X-ray diffraction analyses 37 samples of three blast furnace deposits. Wet chemical results indicate that both the extremely toxic free cyanide (HCN and CN) and toxic weak metal–cyanide complexes, for example [Zn(CN)4]2−, are not present in the sludge. By powder X-ray diffraction we identified the crystalline cyanide-containing compound potassium zinc hexacyanoferrate(II) nonahydrate, K2Zn3[Fe(CN)6]2 × 9H2O, as the cyanide-bearing compound. Our study is the first that identifies potassium zinc hexacyanoferrate(II) nonahydrate in the environment. As the iron–cyanide complex [Fe(CN)6] is not acutely toxic, any direct hazard comes from cyanide occurring in the investigated wastes. Under the predominant pH milieu of the sludge (pH about 8) the solubility of potassium zinc hexacyanoferrate(II) nonahydrate is low, thus minimizing the mobility of cyanide.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:1927–1932.