A deal, announced today (September 29), between American multi-national Rockwell Automation and Dublin based SCFI has according to the firms the potential to ‘dramatically’ change sludge processes.

The method could have particular applications to the pharmaceutical industry as European Union rules mean water contaminated with products like solvents must be destroyed and not allowed back into the environment.

The method uses super critical water oxidation that, according to Rockwell, results in almost 100% solubility for gases and organic compounds.

Waste water sludge is heated to 374 centigrade and pressurised to a 221 bar to creating super critical water oxidation referred to as a fourth state.

Under normal conditions, water is seen in any of its three states: steam, liquid water, or ice, but if water is heated and compressed to sufficiently high temperature and pressure, water enters its fourth state.

As the oxidation occurs in the ‘water phase’ the process does not have the air emissions associated with incineration.

Rockwell’s water and wastewater industry business manager, Vincent Guillaumie, said: “This technology is particularly timely as it can replace expensive and wasteful practices for disposing of waste water that cannot be treated in a traditional way under tight EU regulations.”

Luke Walsh

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