Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ultrasound destroys toxic liquid waste

 Well now that the Gulf of Mexico is even more of a toxic shit-stew than normal, I wanted to post this story about using ultrasound to take out toxic soups. For good.

 ..First this article.

   The image of a soprano shattering a crystal goblet with a prolonged high note sets the scene for Michael R. Hoffman, a chemist at the California Institute of Technology California Institute of Technology, at Pasadena, Calif.; originally for men, became coeducational in 1970; founded 1891 as Throop Polytechnic Institute; called Throop College of Technology, 1913–20.  in Pasadena.

Hoffman uses ultrasound to break down hazardous wastes in liquids. By subjecting toxic molecules in solution to the intense energies of ultrasonic vibrations, he finds that the toxins will separate into their nontoxic components.

Human beings can hear sounds up to 16 kilohertz One thousand cycles per second. See Hertz.  (kHz), or 16 thousand cycles per second. Above that threshold, ultrasound ranges from 16 kHz to several million hertz.

When focused into a liquid, ultrasonic vibrations generate tiny bubbles that superheat su·per·heat
tr.v. su·per·heat·ed, su·per·heat·ing, su·per·heats
1. To heat excessively; overheat.

, expand, and collapse in only a few microseconds. Temperatures inside the bubbles can reach 5,500[degrees]C, causing complex molecules inside the fluid to break apart. Hoffman likens the process to liquid "incineration."

In one test, Hoffman's group exposed the pesticide parathion to ultrasound at 20 kHz, delivering 75 watts of energy per square centimeter. The entire sample broke down in 2 hours, quickening degradation from a half-life of 108 days to 30 minutes. A new apparatus delivers up to 3 million watts.

Hoffman also reports using this method to break down several nasty pollutants in the laboratory -- which suggests that PCBs, widely used in batteries, and solvents such as TCE and PCE should succumb as well.

   So,, I realize that sound is damaging to marine life, excruciatingly painful for sonar-using mammals, and highly likely, fish too, as well as all the other marine life, although I have never found any information concerning the detrimental effects on a broader scale...figures. The sono-catalysis units that are used by many industries could be easily adapted for this method of what I like to call " sono-remediation".

The dispersed oil and other chemicals contained in the various layers of the ocean are being found at very different concentrations in the areas that are monitored. The various salt saturation levels, temps and currents in the deep-water areas are what are dictating the placement of the oil and "other " compounds.

   Given that sound travels extremely far in dense liquids, ie: salt water, same reason sonar works, I think that these units could be easily used. They would far more effective at dealing with the problem of suspended oil. The surface skimming we all know is highly ineffective, the oil, once dispersed, sinks beneath the surface of the water, but oil that has not been dispersed, will sink as well, as soon as it releases some of the gases contained. Since the upper layers of the ocean are much less dense than the lower layers, the oil naturally sinks, with or without dispersants. These units could be rigged up and towed under the ocean, or they could be set up in various layers of the Gulf sea-floor, for sono-remediations, where the currents, and sinking hydrocarbons would encounter the propagating sound waves traveling in the lower depths. I do not see fishing grounds being affected, simply for the reason that pretty much all the fishing in the gulf of Mexico is done at a much shallower level than where the layers in which the oil will be found in the coming months.

Just in the same way that sub-sea "trees" and "hubs" are built for transfer of oil, the same can be done with sono-units. They can also be specifically tuned to destroy various density materials, ie: the longer vs shorter chain hydrocarbon groups. Ultimately this could also become a way to keep marine life away from areas where toxic compounds are found in higher concentrations, limiting their entry into the food chain in the Gulf areas. maybe Kevin Costner, or Jimmie Cameron.......or maybe even a joint group of the people that actually are responsible for all this tomfoolery ....GASP...hush yo' mouth child....could get together and maybe pony up some duckets for a sound operation.......

 Or we can just wait for nature to take her course...what ever that may be.