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Tiny Reactors Neutralize Toxic Waste On Site


Developments to Watch

TINY REACTORS NEUTRALIZE TOXIC WASTE ON-SITE

Heightened community concern in recent years about emissions from incinerators has spurred the search for other ways to process organic wastes, including PCBs, dioxin, and even illegal drugs. One method developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory--called mediated electrochemical oxidation--may be an alternative. The weapons lab recently signed a $4 million deal with startup EOSystems Inc. in Menlo Park, Calif., to commercialize the technology.

In the process, an electrical current is applied to a weak solution of an acid such as sulfuric acid. When organic wastes are added, they are oxidized into carbon dioxide, water, and other inert materials. The process works on-site at room temperature and ordinary pressure, saving transportation costs and reducing the chances of releases into the air. Depending on their size, the self-contained reactors can process from 20 pounds to a ton of waste per day. EOSystems expects to sell them in about two years.EDITED BY PETER COY


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