Rockwell and SCFI to boost take-up of Super Critical Water Oxidation


Developing unit for launch in 2011

Rockwell Automation has announced a strategic partnership with Ireland-based SCFI, which could be the start of a dramatic change in the way water and wastewater sludge is dealt with.

The companies are collaborating on the development of a Super Critical Water Oxidation process that results in almost 100% solubility for gases and organic compounds. They expect the first commercial unit to be fully operational in the autumn of 2011.

The units are built to order and work by raising the temperature of the water/sludge to 374ºC and pressurising it to 221 bar to bring about a supercritical condition or ‘fourth phase’ – a process called Super Critical Water Oxidation.

Wet Air Oxidation processes typically achieve only partial oxidation of pharmaceutical wastewater, whereas in the Super Critical phase, complete oxidation is achieved. The companies say that because oxidation occurs in the ‘water’ phase, the process does not have the air emissions issues associated with incineration of high-strength organic wastewater streams.

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

As recently as 1998 such waste was often dumped at sea, but a worldwide ban on the practice left the industry with three main options to deal with this waste: incineration, landfill and land spreading.