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Air cleaned.

Industrial members of the Institute for Chemical Science and Technology (ICST) are hoping work being done by a University of Alberta chemical engineering will lead to a marketable process for removing and destroying volatile organics in waste waters.

Karl Chuang, MCIC, has received $86620 over two years from ICST's research programme, and a matching grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council totaling $86900, to examine the use of catalysts which retain their activity in a wet environment as a means of desorbing and destroying pollutants in a single trickle bed reactor.

Chuang is interested in treating industrial waste and removing volatile organic compounds from waste waters, such as those from pulp and paper plants. He also says that gasoline tanks, some of which are now very old, are starting to leak into underground water supplies. Also refining and chemical processing also contributes to the contamination of fresh water supplies.

Processes, such as airstripping and carbon absorption, currently used to clean contaminated waste waters, have their problem. In air stripping, the waste waters are poured into a column packed with packing materials and air is then introduced into the bottom of the column. The air, leaving the column, carries some of the volatile organics and is contaminated as a result. Carbon absorption is very expensive and has disposal problems.

Chuang's method involves the use of oxygen to oxidize the organic compounds, but the problem is that no catalyst will remain active in water. However, if the catalyst is coated with Telfon, it is water-repellant. So," he says, "if you trickle water on these catalysts, you then allow the oxygen to penetrate into them; as well, the organics that have already been transferred from the water to the air are allowed to get to the catalysts at the same time. Then, the oxidation takes place and it become carbon dioxide and water. When the airstream leaves the column, it only contains a little bit extra carbon dioxide and water, which is benign to the environment.

Working with Chuang is one postdoctoral fellow and a graduate student. The three have been studying alcohols, including ethanol and methanol. They've moved on to a compound called BTX, which contains benzene, toluene and xylene (major components in motor fuels) and hope to move onto chlorofluorocarbons in the future.
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Title Annotation:cleaning up industrial waste water
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:384
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