Pyrolysis of chlorinated organic chemicals.
At present, South Africa has inadequate technology to destroy its hazardous waste, with approximately 18000 litres of chlorinated hazardous waste stored in this country. Approximately 800 tons of banned or obsolete chemicals are to be sent to Pontypool. Wales, for incineration, at a considerable cost. Because of the toxic nature of chlorinated waste and their long-term effects on the environment , a sustainable method of dealing with this type of waste is essential. Gas phase destruction of methylene chloride, trichlorobenzene and lindane by pyrolysis (i.e. heating in the absence of oxygen) was attempted. Destruction was effected by high temperature thermal degradation of molecules into free radicals. These radicals then combine to form hydrogen chloride and carbon as major products. This method was chosen so as to eliminate the possible formation of highly toxic oxygenated derivatives such as polychlorinated dibenzofurans and dibenzodioxins that can be formed during incineration if strict control is not excercised. The reactor assembly was built in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Natal. 11 incorporates aspects of many different previously designed reactors, as discussed in the text. Heat for the reactions was supplied by induction. A high frequency induction unit supplied current to a copper coil. The resulting magnetic field induced current to flow in a susceptor housed within the copper coil. The susceptor in this case was a graphite tube, which served as both the heating element and the thermal radiation source, in addition to forming the walls of the reaction zone. Up and down stream processes were designed and experiments were carried out in which reaction temperatures (348-1400°C) and residence times (1.3-5.6 seconds) were varied. Destruction efficiencies of 100% and 99.99% were obtained for methylene chloride and trichlorobenzene respectively, with inert argon used as the carrier gas. These destruction efficiencies comply with the 99.99% stipulated by the United States Conservation and Recovery Act. A cause for concern was the formation of chlorinated benzenes and naphthalenes. Destruction of lindane proved unsuccessful due to limitations in the vapourisation and feed system and will have to be investigated further. The method of induction heating was evaluated to be 98.9% thermally efficient. Raw material and utility consumption per ton of waste destroyed by the pyrolysis process was compared to values for incineration as well as the plasma arc and catalytic extraction processes. Consumption for pyrolysis compares favourably with all three processes and suggests that the process could be competitive. Claims to the success of the technology on a wide scale are limited by the small number of compounds that were successfully pyrolysed. Results do however indicate much promise for this technology to be used as a fi nal chlorinated waste destruction unit on an existing process. Modifications to the existing reactor to improve product recovery and analys is will allow for temperature and residence time optimisation for a variety of wastes. Additional in strumentation and process control will allow for kinetic studies to be undertaken in future. This project should be considered as the first step in an ongoing series of research and subsequent improvements to the technology presented here.