SRI patented a process called assisted hydrothermal oxidation for environmentally safe, cost-effective disposal of hazardous materials such as wastewater, chlorinated wastes, chemical weapons, and explosives. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries licensed the technology to destroy harmful PCBs safely and completely, and built a plant for that purpose.
The technology is a variation of supercritical water oxidation, in which pressurized superheated (or “supercritical”) water decomposes hazardous wastes to undetectable amounts. That process can result in corrosion problems created by acidic gases and salt deposits. SRI’s process adds nontoxic sodium carbonate and proprietary catalysts, which eliminate these problems. The process uses inexpensive materials and can operate at a lower temperature and at lower cost than conventional processes.