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Laser-Induced Destruction of Hazardous Chemicals: A Preliminary Analysis

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Societys increasing dependence on chemicals in recent years had led to the production of vast amounts of solid, liquid, and gaseous wastes. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was designed to control solid and liquid hazardous waste products once they were generated. The Clean Air Act and other state regulations were promulgated to minimize the emission of dangerous gases. The Environmental Protection Agency EPA and other government agencies have expressed an interest in technical methods that might prove effective in destroying dangerous chemicals before they leave the plant environment and become subject to regulation. This study evaluates one such technique, laser infrared multiphoton dissociation, for decomposing deleterious chemical gases. One especially dangerous class of chemical is the one consisting of the chlorinated hydrocarbons. Members of this species can cause photochemical smog or may contribute to ozone completion some members are extremely carcinogenic and mutagenic and pose serious consequences to workers and society as a whole. In this Note, we focus on the destruction of two hazardous series of these chemicals, the chlorinated ethylenes and the chlorinated ethanes. We present a detailed method for decomposing chlorinated chemicals in the workplace using a relatively inexpensive CO2 laser. Our initial results show that CO2 laser photodegradation of vinyl chloride, a chlorinated ethylene, is promising. In the photodissociation of vinyl chloride, acetylene and hydrochloric acid HCl are produced. Acetylene poses an insignificant threat and HCl neutralization can be easily accomplished. Although vinyl chloride serves as the main example throughout, we also focus on the destruction of other dangerous chemicals, including vinylidene chloride, trichloroethylene, ethylene dichloride, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane. The preliminary analysis presented here shows that laser dissociation of chlorinated chemicals holds much promise.

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  • Organic Chemistry
  • Radiation and Nuclear Chemistry
  • Lasers and Masers
  • Air Pollution and Control

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