Duke University has been working on Supercritical Water Oxidation since 2013 as part of the "Reinvent the toilets" initiative from the Gates Foundation. Addressing waste treatment and fecal sludge, the technology developed there has outstanding treatment performances, mineralizing virtually all compounds including emerging contaminants such as micro-plastics, PFAS, drug residues, and breaking them down to carbon dioxide and water. Minerals such as Phosphorus, Potassium, Silica, Calcium, Iron and others can be recovered together with clean water and reused as fertilizers. The team has been operating for 4 years a prototype located on campus in a 20” container, conducting tests and experiments for process improvement and optimization. On the way to commercialization and real life deployment, the PI system was incorporated 1 year ago. It has helped streamline the data treatment process and speed up the R&D effort, bringing closer the sanitation revolution the world needs.
David Ballenghien is a lead researcher at Duke University, pushing science on supercritical water oxidation as part of the Gates Foundation sponsored research on sanitation for the developing world. He previously worked as a consultant in an EPC firm in France and before that, he spent 4 years as a R&D engineer for a waste treatment startup. David holds a Master in chemical engineering from ENSTA Paris in France. His current passions include blacksmithing, comics, learning about American plants species while hiking, and tackling the global waste issue.