PCB Disposal Solutions
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are extremely stable compounds possessing excellent dielectric properties. PCBs were widely used in electric equipment until the 1970s when their use was prohibited due to environmental concerns. Most PCBs have since been removed from service and put into storage. However, the long-term storage of large quantities of hazardous materials poses potential problems. Many jurisdictions have enacted regulations to prevent the indefinite storage.
United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has identified PCBs as one of the twelve Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) requiring urgent global actions to reduce and eliminate.
Many methods have been proposed and used for PCB disposal, with incineration being one of the most prevalent options. However, incineration is an energy intensive non-selective method and increases the risk of forming more toxic by-products. For this reason, only approved, specially designed incinerators may be used. In many countries, the destruction of PCB by incineration has been banned completely. Other technologies, such as plasma arc, hydrogenation or supercritical water are also non-selective and require high energy inputs.
The Powertech process uses sodium dispersion as the active ingredient for PCB disposal. The sodium reacts with the chlorine atoms in the PCB to form salt and biphenyl. Both these products are non-toxic. The reaction is carried out at temperature and at conditions not conducive for the formation of the highly toxic dioxins and furans. Since the bulk of the feed material, i.e., transformer oil or potting compound, is not destroyed in the process, the material may be recycled or reused. For example, processed transformer oil at BC Hydro is reclaimed in a conventional reclamation plant to new oil specifications and reused or sold.
The Powertech process has received government approvals in Canada and Japan.
Kobelco Eco-Solutions Co. Ltd. is the exclusive licensee for the Powertech PCB destruction technology in Japan and South Korea.