Canadian Consulting Engineer

Sonic energy to clean up PCBs, coal power plant ashes

A Vancouver company has won the support of Natural Resources Canada's CANMET Energy Technology division to test a p...

December 23, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

A Vancouver company has won the support of Natural Resources Canada’s CANMET Energy Technology division to test a process for treating the ashes from coal fire plants using sonic energy.
In early December, Sonic Environmental Solutions entered into a cost-sharing agreement and collaboration with CANMET. Earlier work by the government organization using Sonic’s low frequency sonic generator has suggested that the process could be used for accelerated, conditioning, pacification and carbonation of circulating fluidized bed combustion (FBC) ashes. CANMET has developed and patented the process which is primarily for coal fired power plants, and is now working with Sonic to develp the process commercially.
Sonic is already constructing a plant to demonstrate the commercial use of its sonic generator technology for remediating soils contaminated with PCBs (polycholorinated biphenyls). Incineration is the most common method used for destroying PCBs, but it can allow the formation of chloro-dioxins and furans, and uncontrolled releases into the atmosphere.
Sonic’s platform technology applies sonic energy to chemical and bioligical reactions using patented sonic generators. According to the company’s web site, the process works as follows: “The company’s sonic generators produce extremely intense agitation via low frequency sonic energy. This is accomplished using a steel bar vibrating at its natural resonance frequency — a condition at which normal mechanical equipment would self destruct. The vibrational sonic energy from the bar is transmitted to chambers through which fluid materials or slurries can be pumped. The materials are thus subjected to very intense sonic agitation which has the effect of speeding up ractions and making them more complete (“sonication”).


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