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Using the sun to decontaminate wastewater

By Gerald Ondrey |

Last month, a photocatalytic water-cleaning system that removes organic and inorganic contaminants that are difficult to breakdown from wastewater was inaugurated at the German Aerospace Center (DLR; Stuttgart; www.dlr.de) facility in Lampildshausem. The so-called RayWOx system features a new type of solar receiver consisting of glass pipes. Wastewater mixed with an iron salt — the iron ion serving as photocatalyst — and hydrogen peroxide flows through the tubes until the absorbed solar radiation has decomposed the contaminants. In pilot trials, the RayWOx process has been shown to be effective for decontaminating water containing pharmaceutical agents; X-ray contrast media and hormones as well as chlorinated hydrocarbons from contaminated groundwater; harmful substances in exhaust-air scrubbing solutions from textile manufacturing; and toxic materials in municipal wastewater. The system operating at Lampildshausem, developed in collaboration with Hirschmann Laborgeräte GmbH (Eberstadt) and KACO new energy GmbH (Neckarsulm; www.kaco-newenergy.de), has a solar reactor 49-m long and 470-cm wide and can clean about 4,500 L of industrial wastewater, removing of all oxidizable contamination in 2 h (given suitable weather…
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