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Plasma oxidation disinfects water without the addition of chemicals

| By Scott Jenkins

A new technology that uses plasma to kill bacteria and simultaneously oxidize organic material in water systems offers a non-chemical alternative to water treatment in several industry sectors, such as food and beverage, power generation, oil and gas and others.

Symbios Technologies Inc. (Fort Collins, Colo.; has demonstrated its TPR4000 Tubular Plasma Reactor, which generates plasma using low-voltage, direct-current electricity applied across an array of plasma nozzles mounted on a rapidly (1,000 rpm) rotating cylindrical core. The plasma nozzles are equipped with porous frits that allow air to be introduced into the contaminated water, which flows into the reactor from the top and is mixed vigorously by the rotation. The air-supported plasma generates a variety of high-energy electrons and hydroxyl radical species that kill microbes and oxidize organic material in the water. The oxidation products are purged from the reactor as trace CO2 and the decontaminated water exits the bottom of the reactor.

Current disinfection and wastewater-oxidation approaches rely on added chemicals, which have cost and safety issues, explains Symbios CEO Justin Bzdek. “The dynamic design of the patented Symbios plasma system allows the TPR4000 to be tuned for a variety of applications while delivering lower-cost, higher-performance oxidation and disinfection for water contaminants that are difficult to treat by other methods,” he adds.

The Symbios technology can be scaled up by increasing reactor tube length and diameter, as well as by using multiple reactors in parallel. The company is seeking to add partners and investors as it takes the technology to the commercial stage.