What's Up UA? - The Sound of Destruction - The Explorer: University Of Arizona

What's Up UA? - The Sound of Destruction

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:45 am

Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Engineering have come up with a novel way to help the U.S. Air Force dispose of stockpiles of dangerous chemicals – using nothing more than sound waves.

The Air Force has a large stockpile – almost 11 million liters – of fire-extinguishing foam, which contains environmentally damaging organic compounds. Manish Keswani, an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Reyes Sierra, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, have been awarded a $243,000 contract by the Air Force Civil Engineering Center to destroy the chemicals using a novel sonochemical process, which uses sound waves to break down complex and toxic molecules into nothing more than carbon dioxide and water.

"Sonolysis relies on the process of cavitation for its success," Keswani said. "Under certain conditions, sound waves cause the formation of small bubbles that rapidly implode and release an intense shock wave that produces enormous amounts of heat energy and a variety of highly active radicals, which can completely destroy adjacent material."

Cavitation is used in certain medical procedures and is also found in nature. Shock-wave lithotripsy relies on cavitation to destroy kidney stones, and mantis shrimps use cavitation when hunting their next meal. The shrimps strike with such velocity – about the speed of a bullet after it's fired – that they generate cavitation bubbles in the water between themselves and their target. Even if they don’t make a direct strike, the resulting shock waves are enough to stun or kill their prey.

The heat energy unleashed by cavitation breaks down the bonds that tie large molecules together, such as the perfluoroalkyl sulfonates and carboxylates, or PFCs, found in fire-fighting foams. These toxic PFCs are hard to break down and tend to persist in the environment, and in body tissue, which is why the Air Force will be investigating cavitation as a cost-effective method of producing temperatures in excess of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, more than enough to incinerate the problem chemicals.

"One novel aspect of our acoustic technology is the use of multiple sound frequencies to treat large quantities of fire-fighting foam," Sierra said. Current sonolysis techniques use ultrasonic (20-100 kHz) or megasonic (> 0.5 MHz) frequencies, but results have been disappointing in terms of the volume of material that can be treated using these frequency ranges.

Keswani and Sierra will study the effectiveness of a dual-transducer system they have developed. It uses both ultrasonic and megasonic frequencies and can be scaled up to treat the Air Force’s large stockpile of toxic fire-fighting chemicals. Their objective is to develop a system that will produce the required high incineration temperatures and desired concentration of active oxidizing radicals while consuming the least amount of energy. They also have developed an electrochemical probe that can quickly and economically identify the most effective chemical and acoustic conditions for degrading the toxic chemicals.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Oro Valley Audiology

Oro Valley AudiologyAddress: 2542 E Vistoso Commerce Loop Rd, Oro Valley, AZ 85755Phone:(520) ...

Wednesday 10/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Close Encounter 'One in a Million'

Monday 10/13/2014

What's Up UA? - Austin Hill: The Comeback Kid

Monday 10/06/2014

What's Up UA? - Health, Wellness Practices Highlighted by Chinese Culture Festival

Thursday 10/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Ready for a Super-Fast Internet? UA Scientists Are Fast at Work on It

Tuesday 09/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Using the Force: UA Police Officer Completes NASA Project

Monday 09/29/2014

What's Up UA? - How New Social Movements Take Root

Friday 09/26/2014

What's Up UA? - PBS 'NewsHour' to Feature Inspirational UA Student

Wednesday 09/24/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Paves Way to Redefine STEM Education

Monday 09/22/2014

What's Up UA? - Wildcats Rally, Hail Mary TD Defeats Cal, 49-45

Thursday 09/18/2014

What's Up UA? - When Job Loss Equals Weight Gain

Monday 09/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Don’t Underestimate Your Mind’s Eye

Thursday 09/11/2014

What's Up UA? - 'What I Wish I Had Known as a Freshman'

Tuesday 09/09/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Undergraduate Researchers Take to the Radio

Thursday 09/04/2014

What's Up UA? - Send Your Tweet – and Your Name – to an Asteroid

Tuesday 09/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Brown Foundations' $2.5 Million Kicks Off Catapult Corp

Thursday 08/28/2014

What's Up UA? - New Veterinary Degree Program Made Possible by $9M Gift is Critical for State

Monday 08/25/2014

What's Up UA? - Laser 'Lightning Rods' Channel Electricity Through Thin Air

Thursday 08/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Fall Enrollment Sets Record for Diversity, Number of Freshmen

Tuesday 08/19/2014

What's Up UA? - Remarkable Résumé: UA Student Journalist's Career Includes CNN, NYT Phoenix

Friday 08/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Through Innovative Partnership, 'Hot Shot' Team Tackles Yuma Produce Perils

Wednesday 08/13/2014

What's Up UA? - The UA Named a Top College by The Princeton Review

Monday 08/11/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Researchers Study Increasing Lifespan and Immune Function What's Up UA? - UA Undergrads Conducting Microgravity Research Aboard NASA's G-Force One

Monday 06/09/2014

What's up UA? - UA to Host U.S. and Mexico Officials Exploring Collaborations in Education, Innovation, Research

Thursday 06/05/2014

What's Up UA? - New Wilderness Medicine Class Hones Patient Care Skills in Rugged Conditions

Tuesday 06/03/2014

Track Cats Send Eight Athletes to TrackTown USA

Monday 06/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Bringing a Spacecraft Back From the Dead

Friday 05/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Heart Attack Patient Defies Odds with Tailored Surgical Treatment at UA Medical Center

Thursday 05/29/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Marketing Students Win National AT&T Competition

Tuesday 05/27/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Friday 05/23/2014

What's up UA? - Four UA Students Picked for Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarships

Wednesday 05/21/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Monday 05/19/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Tunnels Get Carbon Fiber Makeover

Thursday 05/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Earning a UA Degree, in a Grandfather’s Memory

Tuesday 05/13/2014

What's Up UA? - UA's Phoenix Cancer Center is 'Topped Off,' Joins Award-Winning Medical School Building

Thursday 05/08/2014

What's Up UA? - University of Arizona to Offer Nation’s First Bachelor of Arts in Law

Monday 05/05/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Combating Health Disparities to Build Healthier Communities

Wednesday 04/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists at the UA Make Critical End-Stage Liver Disease Discovery

Friday 04/25/2014

What's Up UA? - A Century-Long Track Record of Serving Arizona and Benefiting the State's Economy

Wednesday 04/23/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Opens Nation’s First Resource Center for Student Vets Studying Health Care UA Wildcat Instant Decision Days at PCC campuses April 29-May 2

Monday 04/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Scientists to Begin Construction on NASA Spacecraft that will Visit Asteroid in 2018

Thursday 04/10/2014

What's Up UA? - Spring Fling Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Return to UA Mall

Monday 04/07/2014

Mauga’s Walkoff Sweeps Stanford

Thursday 04/03/2014

What's Up UA? - 4-H Programs Bring Enrichment and Learning to Thousands in Arizona

Monday 03/31/2014

What's Up UA? - The Viruses You Don't Know About (Yet)

Tuesday 03/25/2014

What's Up UA? - Twice Torn Apart: A UA Alumna's Road to the Paralympic Games

Tuesday 03/18/2014

What's Up UA? - Tucson Village Farm Honored as Model Program for the Nation

Friday 03/14/2014

What's Up UA? - Several UA Graduate Programs Reach New Heights

Tuesday 03/11/2014

What's Up UA? - Olympics Interns Share Sochi Experiences

Oro Valley Audiology

Oro Valley AudiologyAddress: 2542 E Vistoso Commerce Loop Rd, Oro Valley, AZ 85755Phone:(520) ...

Spacer4px

Follow us on Facebook

Online poll

Loading…
Loading…