Sounding out Congo Red

May 06, 2008

Brightly colored dyes such as the shimmering Congo Red commonly used in silk clothing manufacture are notoriously difficult to dispose of in an environmentally benign way.

Congo Red is an azo dye, it is toxic to many organisms and is a suspected carcinogen and mutagen. To give it its full name it is the disodium salt of 3,3'-(1E,1'E)-biphenyl-4,4'-diylbis(diazene-2,1-diyl)bis(4-aminonaphthalene-1-sulfonate). It is a benzidine-based anionic disazo dye. Benzidine and Congo Red are, however, banned in many countries because of health concerns. But, it is still widely used in several countries.

Apparently it is used not only to dye silk a gorgeous red, but cleverly adds a second shimmering color and rending the red silk shot through with yellow. It also represents a significant effluent problem along with related dyes from textiles, printing and dyeing, paper, rubber, and plastic industries. Its structural stability makes it highly resistant to biodegradation, and obviously its bright color and toxicity are entirely undesirable in the environment.

Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management (2008, 2, 309-319), Srinivas Sistla and Suresh Chintalapati, from Hyderabad, India, explain a new approach to degrading Congo Red based on ultrasound.

The researchers point out that advanced oxidation processes (AOP) are currently being developed for remediation of contaminated effluent because they generate no hazardous sludge. Oxidative degradation is based on free radical attack using powerful oxidants.

However, Sistla and Chintalapati suggest that sonolysis, break down of an organic compound with ultrasound, has so far been investigated only rarely as an alternative remediation technology. Under well-established 'extreme' conditions, materials irradiated with sound at frequencies around 50 kHz are essentially ripped apart by the formation of free radicals, say the researchers. Carbon dioxide and water are the usual products, although with the case of azo dyes, nitrogen would also feature in the byproducts.

Sonication of Congo Red in the aqueous phase with 50 kHz ultrasound transforms it into a milieu of less toxic intermediates that can then be broken down still further by conventional industrial waste water biodegradation treatment. As a proof of principle, the researchers suggest that the combination of ultrasound and biodegradation could allow the color to be removed from dye-contaminated industrial effluent effectively and the toxicity reduced to negligible levels. "The results obtained from this study revealed the ability of ultrasonic irradiation to transform the aromatic inhibitory compounds to less toxic intermediates, which can be further utilized in aerobic/anaerobic oxidation," the researchers conclude.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

Explore further: 'Doing nothing' to maintain the dunes on Ameland does not affect coastal safety

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft CEO sees 'bold' plan as 4Q tops Street

21 minutes ago

(AP)—Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella painted an upbeat vision of the future Tuesday, saying that the next version of Windows will be unified across screens of all sizes and that two money-losing units—Nokia ...

Thieves got into 1K StubHub accounts

2 minutes ago

(AP)—Cyber thieves got into more than 1,000 StubHub customers' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets for events through the online ticket reseller, a law enforcement official and the company said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Malaysia air quality 'unhealthy' as haze obscures skies

1 hour ago

Air quality around Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur and on Borneo island was "unhealthy" on Tuesday, with one town reaching "very unhealthy" levels as haze—mostly from forest fires in Indonesia—obscured skies.

Worldwide water shortage by 2040

1 hour ago

Two new reports that focus on the global electricity water nexus have just been published. Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population ...

Regulations only a first step in cutting emissions

2 hours ago

Intensifying calls for action on climate change have led to a variety of proposed regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from specific sources of the economy, including, most recently, the environmental ...

User comments : 0