How does it work? The Palm Beach Post writes:
"The sludge is thickened, fed through a grinder and subjected to extremely high pressure. The pressurized mix is pumped through a reactor, along with pure oxygen, where it's heated to more than 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
A strange thing happens to water when it's put under such extreme pressures and temperatures. It's no longer one of the three states — liquid, solid or gas — that kids learn about in school. Rather, it's "supercritical water," a fourth state that's something between a liquid and a gas and is a powerful solvent.
Within the reactor, supercritical water destroys more than 99 percent of organic matter, including sludge. The process leaves behind inorganic salts, clean water and liquid carbon dioxide."
The carbon dioxide produced can be sold to beverage companies and the salts can be sold to fertilizer companies. This process also creates heat that can power electrical turbines which can can then be used to power 1,183 homes. Since the sludge refining reactor only uses half of the electricity it produces from the wastewater byproducts, it can sell back the rest of that energy to the power company at a "green" premium.
The test phase is over and SuperWater Solutions says this waste treatment technology is ready to hit the commercial market and Orlando will be the first recipient of a full-size unit by 2013. And, since the city of Orlando fronted the money for this project, SuperWater Solutions will pay Orlando $2.50 for every ton of sludge treated in all of the other systems that they build.
"The technology has the potential to revolutionize how wastewater is processed — the destruction of all organics, the generation of electricity, a completely green footprint," Don Morgan, CEO of SuperWater Solutions told the Palm Beach Post.
Read the full story by the Palm Beach Post here and watch the interview below with Orlando's director of wastewater treatment about this technology.
Information via the Palm Beach Post; image via EPA.gov