Modeling hydrogen sulfide emission rates in gravity sewage collection systems

Ori Lahav*, Yue Lu, Uri Shavit, Richard E. Loewenthal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The factors affecting sulfide buildup in gravity sewers are complex, consisting of biological and physical processes, both in the aqueous and the gas phases of the sewer. The rate of each of these processes varies (among other parameters) according to flow characteristics, temperature, and pH. Under fast and turbulent flow conditions, the stripping of hydrogen sulfide into the gas phase may become the dominant process. The paper presents a semiempirical approach to the problem of quantifying hydrogen sulfide emission rates in sewers. Kinetics of hydrogen sulfide emission as a function of hydraulic parameters was measured in the laboratory using methods adopted from flocculation theory. A flocculation unit was used to impart a selected velocity gradient (G) into the water, and sulfide concentration was measured with time. The process was repeated for a number of G values. Regression analysis was then used to fit the rate of hydrogen sulfide emission equation against G. An equation was developed linking G to HL (head loss) in sewers assuming plug flow conditions. The hydraulic model and the kinetic model were linked (via G) to give the desired rate equation for hydrogen sulfide emission along a sewer line. The model was used to predict H2S emission from a uniform flow sewer and the effect of parameters such as pH, sewer slope and degree of fullness was studied. As expected, results show that low pH, high slope, and low degree of fullness enhance emission rates. Reasonable agreement was attained when the model output was compared with measured results from a field test sewer in Virginia, South Africa, under conditions where sulfide stripping was the rate-dominant process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1382-1389
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering, ASCE
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Gravity sewers
  • Hydraulic models
  • Hydrogen
  • Stripping
  • Sulfates


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