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Underground Incineration

Completely Destroy Vile Organic Chemicals with no Atmospheric Emissions.
  [vote for,

There are some organic chemicals such as organo-phosphorus compounds that are toxic beyond belief and their disposal along with devices made from them must present enormous problems.

The fact of underground nuclear testing shows that the most powerful of explosions can be contained underground if carried out at sufficient depth.

I propose that an underground chamber be excavated and this be accessed from a kinked or curving tunnel sloping down to the chamber from above. The chamber would be lined with containers of a combustible material such as waste oil or plastic and so on alternated with containers an oxygen source such as hydrogen peroxide, ammonium nitrate or sodium nitrate (Chilean saltpetre.) In the centre would be placed the materials to be disposed of and this could also include difficult items such as various 'seized goods'. The oxygen source would need to be well in excess. When the charging is complete the access tunnel would be filled with concrete which is then allowed to set.

Remotely detonated incendiary charges would then set off this giant firework. The resulting temperature and pressure in the confined space would be enormous resulting in destruction of organics and the melting and oxidation of metals. Added Na2O, CaO and Sio2 might help fluxing and glass formation if this would help.

The whole process would be very expensive but justified in certain circumstances. This might make a useful sideline for an existing metalliferous mine where the mining technology is on hand and could render viable the prior extraction of a pod of marginal ore.

What happens afterwards is an interesting question. Maybe the CO2 and H2O generated would slowly diffuse away allowing the chamber to be re-entered later and used again.

The temptation to shift the balance to an oxygen deficit and thus make diamonds should be resisted.

corvuscornix, Aug 12 2012

Nuke it! http://www.nytimes....gewanted=all&src=pm
Oxygen, schmoxygen. [bungston, Aug 12 2012]


       i've got another idea. 99% of the objectionable compounds that our brilliant chemists have ever made are already in the environs, they aren't waiting in a rubbish bin someplace for us to find something to do with them. the bulk of the contamination is already basically making a slow transition into the mineral phase. Admittedly there is quite a lot of shit that we could dig up, sort and reprocess, so it stops leaching into our water and gassing into our air. Instead of trying to find novel mechanisms to destroy the dangerous 1% of organic contamination that we still have easy access to, why not simply stop making it? just stop making it and the whole how do we get rid of it problem just goes away. Nuking it in a mine somewhere isn't a solution, we can't even seem to find a mine safe enough to bury radioactive material. No, the only real solution is to stop taking the step of producing bizarre persistent toxic organic compounds entirely. And frankly the ones that we currently have might as well be buried with the others because some sort of exotic solution to getting rid of them is just symbolic. Also, prepare to feel very screwed by the third world. They aren't going to "industrialize responsibly". If anything you might want to support totalitarianism, as it seems to be the only mechanism that brings moral logic to the process of industrialization.
WcW, Aug 12 2012

       I would contend that complete conversion of organo-phosphorus compounds to carbon dioxide, water and phosphate is a solution. This is simple chemistry and 'nuking' does not come into it.
corvuscornix, Aug 13 2012

       //99% of the objectionable compounds that our brilliant chemists have ever made are already in the environs//   

       Actually, I'm pretty sure that 99% of the "objectionable compounds" break down in hours, days or weeks in the environment. The 1% will be things like polymers and a small number of non- polymers.   

       //why not simply stop making it?// It may have something to do with the fact that just about everything you touch or see has been made from, or using, organic chemicals.   

       //Nuking it in a mine somewhere isn't a solution// Actually it's a rather good solution, although (as noted) high-temperature incineration is probably cheaper.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 13 2012

       // organo-phosphorus compounds that are toxic beyond belief //   

       You're probably thinking of organo-fluorine-phosphonate compounds, and their toxicity is perfectly credible. No belief is required; it can be conclusively demonstrated.   

       // their disposal along with devices made from them must present enormous problems. //   

       Devices made "with" them, not "from" them. The materials are not structural. And disposal is perfectly simple and easy, as long as you're not concerned about causing massive environmental damage.
8th of 7, Aug 13 2012


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