The unique physical-chemical properties of water above its critical point (374.2°C and 22.1 MPa) makes supercritical water (SCW) an effective reaction medium for oxidation of organic compounds. Gases and many organic compounds are miscible in SCW, so reaction between oxygen and waste is carried out without interface transport constraints. Supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) can give high destruction efficiencies for a wide variety of hazardous wastes, at low reactor residence times.

To study the SCWO, experiments were carried out in a pilot plant equipped with a pressure shell and cooled wall reactor. Effect of operation variables: oxidant excess, reaction temperature and residence time, is studied in order to optimise the contaminant removal efficiency. Aqueous solutions of isopropyl alcohol were used as feed. No effect of air excess and residence time higher than 1 minute on removal efficiency was found, so exclusive dependence of temperature is concluded. Whereas temperature is above 650°C, reactor can work in a wide range of operation conditions with destruction efficiency over 99%. In addition, operation at optimal conditions is reported, using 10%(w) isopropyl alcohol – 1%(w) aniline as feed. Removal efficiencies higher than 99.9% and nitrite-nitrate concentrations less than 10 ppm were obtained.

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