The new device will destroy waste materials without harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
An unparalleled steam superheater created by Russian scientists is capable of destroying hazardous waste without harming the environment. It heats water vapor to a temperature of 1200 ° C, at which most of the harmful compounds decompose. There are no emissions to the atmosphere, as recycling costs without burning. Waste decomposition products can be used as fuel in the future. A new technology is seen as an alternative to polluting incinerators. Tests of a prototype superheater have been completed.
Scientists at St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University “LETI” have developed a new waste-free environmentally friendly technology for processing waste and raw materials using a unique installation. It is designed to superheat steam in the temperature range from 200 to 1200 ° C. Such steam superheaters adapted for waste disposal do not exist either in Russia or in the world.
Aleksey Ivanov, head of the radio engineering electronics department at LETI SPbGETU, told Izvestia that the installation allows pyrolysis (thermal decomposition of various compounds) and carbonization (waste disinfection) of various organic materials, waste processing to produce liquid fuels, and deep processing of hydrocarbons into petrochemical and chemical productions.
“Our steam superheater has a number of functional advantages,” he said. – First, the steam temperature can be controlled to within a few degrees. Secondly, small size. Thirdly, high efficiency: efficiency is almost 70%.
The developers are confident that the device will be economically beneficial to enterprises of various profiles. The fact is that the device developed in LETI, called SH-1000, overheats steam using microwaves (microwave radiation), and its parts are made of porous ceramic materials with high absorption in the microwave range. As a heating element used parts that are in a conventional microwave, they are cheap and easily replaceable in the event of a breakdown. Therefore, the equipment itself for mass production will be inexpensive. In addition, it does not need any special fuel, the installation is powered by electricity.
Scientists are confident that with such small portable steam superheaters, enterprises will be able to refuse third-party recycling. They will not have to pay recycling plants for recycling, they will be able to destroy waste materials themselves.
At the first pilot plant, scientists obtained the results of experiments on the processing of organic components of electronic scrap with superheated steam – these are spent phones, televisions, computers, household appliances, electrical boards, etc. According to statistical data, 20 million tons of electronic scrap is generated in the world every year, in Russia – over 1 million. Nowadays, mechanical devices are used for scrap processing, which grind it, followed by separation of metal from organic matter.
The study showed that the device effectively separates metals from polymeric shells – the process takes place under the control of the operator, which allows to obtain high quality metal. Also, scientists have tested their installation on food packaging. Processing used Tetra Pak packaging made it possible to isolate pure aluminum and high-quality carbon (coal) from many layers that make it up.
The creation of such devices is necessary to address energy conservation issues, says Andrei Mityakov, a professor at the Department of Thermophysics of Power Plants at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU).
– Most of the existing steam superheaters, which are not used for burning garbage, but work, for example, in the production of ethylene, use a system of heating surfaces for heat exchangers (a device for transferring heat from the heated coolant to the colder one. – Izvestia). The same devices are used to produce superheated steam microwaves, which is much cheaper, the expert said.
It is also important that the proposed technique is safer from the point of view of ecology, Boris Grigoriev, Head of the Department of Applied and Technical Physics at Tomsk State University (university — participant in the 5-100 project), is confident.
“The problem of environmentally friendly recycling is particularly relevant at the present time, and such technological solutions can be very useful,” the scientist noted. – Personally, I see the use of controlled steam superheaters for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces coated with corrosion or contaminated with oil products. This is a delicate, but effective way, with low water consumption, which, thanks to temperature control, can clean various surfaces, hard-to-reach areas, for example, in heat exchangers and radiators, in layers.
Experts are sure that in case of launching such plants into mass production, they will be able to equip large factories, which will make it possible to abandon the practice of waste incineration.
The next step that LETI scientists need to overcome is the creation of a pilot plant, which will make the processing continuous, in compliance with all the necessary requirements for cleanliness of processing and preservation of a clean environment. According to developers, it will take about a year and about 15–20 million rubles to make it.