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Research team receives U.S. Army award to explore mobile supercritical water oxidation


August 19, 2019

A UW research team led by ME associate professor Igor Novosselov will advance their work to develop a system that breaks down chemical warfare agents and toxic waste through a new $400,000 Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) from the U.S. Army Research Office (ARO).

With this funding, the team will transition the fundamental research initiated through Defense Threat Reduction Agency funding on supercritical water hydrolysis and oxidation. ARO funding will allow the team to move into design fabrication and testing of practical supercritical water reactor.

The group is developing a reactor that uses supercritical water oxidation technology to break down complex chemicals yielding mostly carbon dioxide and water. The apparatus, which can fit on a mobile platform, could be delivered for on-site processing, eliminating the need to transport waste and other harmful chemicals.

While the team’s primary focus has been on neutralizing chemical agents and toxic waste, Novosselov says that the supercritical water technology can be applied to the treatment of agricultural residue and human waste, converting low-grade feedstock to green hydrogen and drop-in biofuels.

“Working with the ARO gives us the opportunity to take our tech to the next level as well as learn from the end-users about their needs,” says Novosselov. “While the science portion of the research is important for moving the technology forward, one should also listen to the people who will eventually use it. The synergy between the UW and U.S. Army researchers will provide a more streamlined approach to design, testing, certification and eventual commercialization of the technology.”

The ARO research program supports extramural academic research efforts and innovative advancements in engineering and the physical, information and life sciences. Basic research proposals from educational institutions, nonprofit organizations and private industry are competitively selected and funded. ARO CRADA grants are unique in that they represent a collaboration between the U.S. Army and the awardee.

At the UW, Novosselov leads the Novosselov Research Group, a multidisciplinary team that conducts research in areas of energy conversion technologies, aerosol science and fluid dynamics. He holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences and is a member of the UW Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute and the Institute for Nano-engineered Systems.