Superoxide (SO) is an advanced oxidative procedure that’s effective against a wide variety of pollutants. This includes all organic pollution, anaerobic bacteria, viruses, cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae), and many metals. The category called organic covers many of the pollutants that plague our modern waterways, such as oil, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), drug residues, and many chemicals.
SO reacts with the carbon atom in any organic substance. It combines with the carbon to produce carbon dioxide (CO2). Other substances created in this reaction can include water, hydrogen, and nitrogen, depending on the makeup of the pollutant. The final products are largely gases that are assimilated and recycled by the environment. Metals are oxidized, causing them to precipitate out of solution. This makes it possible to remove these metals by filtration. Cyanobacteria and anaerobic bacteria are also reduced to gases.
When SO is applied to a body of water, it moves throughout the water column. Wind and natural currents help it spread from the surface to the sediment, simplifying the job of achieving a good distribution of oxygen.
Healthy sediment is essential to healthy bodies of water. Treating the sediment helps return a polluted water body to health. The addition of SO dramatically increases the dissolved oxygen in the water column. If this extra oxygen reaches the sediment, the aerobic bacteria living there are revitalized. This is critical because aerobic bacteria help keep the water clean by processing pollutants. The additional oxygen itself will also remediate pollutants in the sediment.
Some processes create long-lasting SO, which can last a week to 10 days. In water with no currents, this SO will travel a distance of about ½ mile and reach depths of 100 meters.
SO is a terrific example of advanced oxidative procedures, which are new forms of oxidation used to clean water. These modern methods are vastly superior to old line methods of water purification, such as ozone and chlorination.
Chlorination is now being found to produce unwanted secondary pollution, especially in the area of personal care products (PCPs). This includes pharmaceutical residues from prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Treating wastewater with chlorine actually enables prescription drugs to reassemble because chlorine is an important ingredient in most drugs.
SO not only dismantles these drugs, but drives the chlorine out of the water column. It’s also been shown to be safe to work with. A recent Harvard study (Pyrgiotakis, et al, 2015) found that lab mice in an atmosphere of SO suffered no ill effects, and the levels of SO were far higher than those used to disinfect food. Further proof of its safety can be seen in sales to fish farms, which use SO as a way to enhance growth and keep the water clean.