New Process Develops Additional Use for Waste Sulfur Stream

Sulfur is a common byproduct of the oil refining process: hydrodesulfurization produces around 0.5 lb of sulfur for every 19 gallons of gasoline that is processed [1,2]. A team led by professor Jeffrey Pyun and Ph.D. student Jared Griebel at the University of Arizona have developed a new process to create a useful polymer from this waste stream [1]. 

Sulfur Polymer Sample and Elemental Sulfur  [1]

Sulfur Polymer Sample and Elemental Sulfur [1]

A traditional use for elemental sulfur has been as feedstock for sulfuric acid [2]. However, recently, sulfur production is far outpacing market demand, and refineries are developing huge stockpiles of the material [1]. The new polymer developed at UA has potential uses as both a structural plastic and as a better constituent material in the Li-S rechargeable battery chemistry [1]. For these batteries, compared to traditional materials, the new polymer demonstrates improved properties of specific capacity and capacity retention [2]. The team, along with other co-authors, published their results in Nature Chemistry, and three companies are currently investigating commercial applications for the material [2,3].



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