Flameless incineration of pyrene under sub-critical and supercritical water conditions

Jude A. Onwudili, Paul T. Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pyrene was used as a typical four-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), to investigate the mechanisms and incineration behaviour of large organic molecules in a batch supercritical water oxidation reactor using hydrogen peroxide as oxidant. The distribution of carbon as gaseous species and organic species in relation to the temperature and pressure, and reaction time was monitored. The results showed that at 200°C, pyrene was only slightly decomposed but as the temperature increased to 250°C and then to 280°C, carbonisation and thermal cracking became prevalent leading to char formation and decomposition of pyrene to phenanthrene, and later naphthalene. Rapid dissolution and oxidation of the char and organic species started occurring from 300°C. Increasing reaction time resulted in increased formation of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Initially high product formation of phenanthrene at short reaction times was followed by high decomposition of the organic products in solution as the reaction conditions became progressively more severe. Oxygenated organic species such as aldehydes, ketones, phenols, xanthone, and benzoic acid were identified as the temperature and reaction times were increased between 300 and 380°C. From the analytical results obtained, carbon mass balances were calculated for each experiment. A proposed mechanism for the observed oxidative decomposition of pyrene is also reported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • Incineration
  • PAH
  • Pyrene
  • Sub-critical
  • Supercritical water oxidation


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