The treatment of toxic and difficult-to-degrade phenolic compounds has become a key issue in the coking, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. Considering the polymerization and oxidation of phenolic compounds in supercritical water partial oxidation/supercritical water oxidation (SCWPO/SCWO), the present study reviewed the removal efficiency and reaction pathway of phenolic compounds and phenolic waste/wastewater under different reaction conditions. Temperature is the dominant factor affecting the SCWO reaction. When the oxidizing ability is insufficient, the organics polymerize to form phenolic compounds. The gradual increase of oxidant equivalent causes the intermediate product to gradually oxidize to CO2 and H2O completely. Finally, the free radical reaction mechanism is considered to be a typical SCWO reaction mechanism.

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