Significant Breakthrough in Treatment of Toxic Waste Announced by Leading UK University
Jul 23 2008 Read 2017 Times
Jeff Newman, a Consultant and Lecturer in Environmental Biotechnology at Cranfield University and independent Environmental Consultant Ian Paton, have been working on a new treatment process for the last five years, driven by operator demand for a more efficient and cost-effective way to treat leachates (toxic waste) from landfill sites.
Newman commented: "What is even more exciting is that this process can also be used in emergency situations for the treatment of recalcitrant toxic chemicals, such as PFOS (perfluorochyl sulphonate), which until now have been impossible to breakdown due to their extremely long and complicated molecular chains. Using our technology, PFOS now can be
broken down into much smaller and more manageable chains and then ultimately we are left with just carbon dioxide, water and oxygen."
Traditional methods of treating high BOD waste, such as leachates from landfill sites, and highly toxic waste from sources such as chemical
manufacturers, is very costly and time-consuming and can involve the transportation of the toxic waste to specialist treatment sites.
Newman continues: "Our technology uses mild steel electrodes as a source of ferrous ions, and an oscillating electrical current, which recycles ions, reducing the amount of iron needed in the process. We add Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) to initiate the treatment process, which produces hydroxyl free radicals (OH.), which are the key to the whole process.
These free radicals are extremely reactive and very efficiently smash complicated molecular chains into smaller pieces. The system allows a
constant flow of toxic waste through the equipment. The whole process is amazingly efficient - highly toxic and carcinogenic waste can
be treated within 10 minutes, in a multi-step process into the final products oxygen, water and carbon dioxide.
The system can be fabricated cheaply and quickly on site - either as a permanent treatment facility at sites such as oil platforms for the treatment of oil waste and spills; landfill sites which excrete vast amounts of toxic liquid which contains extremely high levels of biological waste; through to companies which produce chemical waste e.g.
paint manufacturers, or, as a one-off emergency installation in extreme circumstances e.g. for dealing with PFOS.
The system can be built to any scale and can be trailer mounted and portable to use with bunded waste - ideal for the fire service when treating fires which result in toxic run-off water which has to be
collected, contained and then usually taken away for expensive treatment. A trailer-mounted facility would allow this toxic water to be pumped directly into the system and treated quickly and safely onsite.
Thus, Cranfield`s technology eliminates the need for transporting toxic waste around the country - a potential further hazard.
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