When water is introduced into the MHD Reactor, it alters the structure of the water, producing hydroxyl ion enriched water that has many of the characteristics of water treated with a surfactant. Becoming a carrier of the oxidizer, it penetrates a solid matrix more efficiently than would un-treated water. Upon introduction to a slurry, the suspended contaminant particles in the sediments become charged, agglomerate, and settle out or, in the case of oils rise to the surface. As liquids pass through the device, regions of locally high energy density are created. Several phenomena occur:
Hot Spot Chemistry
MHD treatment causes localized temperature and pressure increases, which drive numerous chemical reactions. These reactions cause the water to disassociate into hydrogen atoms and hydroxyl radicals. These radicals react in a variety of ways, depending on the concentration and chemical composition of the contaminants in the water. An extensive reaction is the formation of hydrogen peroxide from the re-combination of two hydroxyl radicals. The peroxide, as well as the heat and pressure, serve to crack higher-molecular weight species to smaller fragments.
In addition to forming peroxide, the hydroxyl radicals react with the hydrocarbons forming a hydrocarbon free radical. The hydrocarbon free radical can react with other hydrocarbons to form polymeric materials, forming chains terminated with a hydroxyl group. The hydrocarbon radicals can also react with dissolved oxygen forming an alkylperoxy radical. These act as surfactants, which in turn can act to liberate hydrocarbon material from solid or semi-solid matrices as well as facilitate both additional chemical reactions and separation of the solids from the liquid matrix.
Locally high temperatures and pressures associated with MHD treatment also induce an electrical discharge from the metal surface of the "The Reactor". The metal radical acts as a catalytic surface facilitating the "hydrocarbon cracking" effect of surfactants, high temperature and pressure, and hydroxylation reactions.
Propagation of Acoustical Waves
Both "hot spot" chemistry and electrical discharges will be confined to relatively small fractions of the fluid volume. The pressure waves induced by the MHD treatment, however, can propagate throughout the fluid. One result of these pressure waves will be the growth and sedimentation of particles in the fluid. The pressure waves cause sinusoidal variations in particle velocities. Driven by these time varying velocities, particle collision and agglomeration rates increase and the resulting larger particles can more effectively separate from the fluid.