Novel Electron Beam Technology for Water Treatment

S. Grdanovska, C. Cooper
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory,
United States

Keywords: water treatment, electron beam, accelerators, contaminants


Much interest has been generated in water treatment by electron beam irradiation because of the effectiveness of ionizing radiation in the decomposition of microorganisms and undesirable organic contaminants. Electron beam treatment of water and other matrices is a proven technology. In the process, a bulk of the electron beam energy goes into breaking down the water molecule into various highly reactive species that are very effective at removing contaminants via both oxidative and reductive routes. The technology offers many advantages, typically without any secondary waste generation. E-beam treatment has broad range impacts in that it breaks down most anything in water (except metals or ions) so that not only can it treat contaminants of concern today, but it will likely be able to treat unknown emerging contaminants. The main drawbacks from e-beam technology with regards to wastewater treatment are that conventional e-beam accelerators have low volume flow capacities, are energy intensive and occupy a large space, making it difficult to integrate into existing water treatment facilities. Fermilab’s design addresses these concerns and opens up the possibility of treating large volume flow rates via e-beam. Fermilab is using newly developed superconducting materials and radio frequency power supplies that can double the operating efficiency and greatly reduce the operating cost of using e-beam technology. In addition, Fermilab is using cryocoolers to cool the e-beam tool instead of flowing liquid helium which requires a cryoplant to operate. Because of these advances and several more, Fermilab aims to provide a portable accelerator that can fit on the bed of a truck, treat 200-500k gallons of water a day, and operate 30% cheaper than conventional electron beam accelerators.