Active Oxygen Technology FAQ <English>


Q1:What is active oxygen?

Active oxygen is a generic term describing material which has been altered from atmospheric oxygen molecules into a chemical compound with more reactive characteristics. Generally speaking, active oxygen is divided into four types: superoxide anion radical (superoxide), hydroxyl radical (OH radical), hydrogen peroxide and singlet oxygen. Furthermore, superoxide and OH radicals are categorized as free radicals. In particular, the OH radical has the highest oxidizing capacity among all chemical components on Earth. Technically it is able to dissolve any existing type of organic material.

Q2:Why is active oxygen so important?

Throughout human civilization, waste disposal has involved the decomposition of waste through the activity of surrounding it with various bacteria. This natural process historically alleviated significant waste issues for ancient societies. Humans have coexisted with diverse bacteria in our environment since the beginning of our species.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which led to a more than tenfold increase in global population, mankind has created a myriad of products and materials. Some of these substances, known as non-biodegradable materials, do not naturally decompose. 

Recent observations of the world's rivers and lakes reveal a gradual increase in Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), attributed to these non-biodegradable substances. A primary concern with such materials is their potential inclusion of numerous carcinogens, which subsequently contaminate water sources, including those used for drinking.

The only things capable of decomposing such harmful materials are reactive oxygen species. This approach stands as a potential solution to mitigate the impact of these pollutants.

Q3: Is active oxygen potentially harmful to humans?

Living organisms have chosen a path of sustaining life by means of oxygen intake, but this path also has posed a major risk with the production of active oxygen. Active oxygen is thought to be a cause of health risks such as aging, cancer formation, and various diseases. By taking oxygen into our system, we gain life-sustaining energy but at the same time, large amounts of active oxygen are produced in our system as well. Age spots are also caused by skin cell damage where oxygen on the surface reacts with strong ultraviolet rays to produce active oxygen.   

The history of organic life has always included the battle with these harmful chemicals and it is still a major topic in contemporary medical science. Polyphenol is one chemical known to provide great health benefits due to its high potency in neutralizing active oxygen. 

We strive to control and utilize these harmful substances by transforming them into compounds that are harmless to human beings.

Q4: Has active oxygen ever been utilized before?

The issue of non-biodegradable materials has particularly affected the quality of drinking water, prompting the development of various water treatment techniques such as Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs). 

These methods include formations like Fenton (H2O2/Fe2+), Photo-Fenton (H2O2/UV/Fe2+), and the use of ultraviolet rays and hydrogen peroxide. However, these methods often incur higher operational costs and generate a limited amount of hydroxyl radicals (OH radical), thus limiting their widespread adoption.

No organizations have, as of yet, devoted their research to generating active oxygen in the atmosphere and utilizing it as a treatment method. We take pride in affirming that our waste treatment, which employs airborne active oxygen, represents a unique and unparalleled technology that is not found anywhere else.

Q5:What makes WEF’s technology in active oxygen a “world-leading” technology?

Research institutes worldwide have studied and developed the generation of active oxygen using plasma. However, this method's practicality has been limited due to the restricted amount of active oxygen produced. Our technique has effectively addressed this issue and stands as a world-leading solution.

The type of active oxygen used in the process plays a crucial role. Among the various types of active oxygen mentioned in Question 1, the OH radical is the most effective in decomposing substances and possesses the highest oxidizing capacity on Earth. However, if generated in large volumes within a biological system, such a chemical can pose life-threatening risks. Fortunately, the OH radical has an exceedingly short lifespan of only 10^-6 seconds (one microsecond, equivalent to one-millionth of a second). Its extremely brief existence results in its rapid diminishment immediately after generation. Our expertise lies in the successful management of such rapidly diminishing active oxygen.

Q6:What are the techniques used by WEF to generate OH radicals?

Our OH radical processing techniques have been patented in Japan and have also been filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) System for the international market.

As noted in the response to the previous question, OH radicals quickly transform into water as soon as they are generated. Therefore, our method initially produces superoxide, which remains stable for 6 to 10 seconds before being neutralized in water. During these crucial seconds, our technique efficiently converts superoxide into OH radicals.

Q7: How does the active oxygen decomposition system work?

Organic materials typically contain chemical bonds such as C-C (carbon to carbon) and C-H (carbon to hydrogen), along with N (nitrogen) and O (oxygen). In some instances, P (phosphorus) also attaches to these bonds.

The oxidization process by active oxygen leads to an unstable state in such chemical bonds. Unstable conditions naturally seek stability. During this stabilizing process, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen are removed. This process is known as oxidative decomposition, resulting in the organic material ultimately converting into water or carbon dioxide.

The active oxygen decomposition system operates through a reaction wherein active oxygen progressively breaks down the atomic bonds of organic material. Incidentally, this reaction is exothermic, generating heat up to 200 degrees Celsius. By harnessing this heat, we can also conserve energy through the decomposition process. 

Q8:How does active oxygen solve the problems of contemporary society?

To address various societal issues, we offer three types of treatment systems utilizing our proprietary AOS (Air Operation System) technology:

  • α-Gaia efficiently breaks down the cell walls of organic materials instantly with generated active oxygen, significantly enhancing waste reduction and accelerating the fermentation processes for compost, methane, and ethanol production.
  • Polaris specializes in the low-energy decomposition and gasification of challenging, contaminated oil-based organic substances that are traditionally hard to recycle, such as soiled vinyl, plastics, medical waste, and disposable diapers.
  • W-Gaia processes industrial wastewater, which is typically resistant to breakdown and highly concentrated, converting it into substances that are more manageable and can be treated in-house.

In pursuit of the 2030 goals for CO2 reduction and the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those targeting waste reduction, the application of reactive oxygen holds promising potential for significant environmental benefits.

Q9:Is the active oxygen processing system safe for us?

OH radical diminishes in only 10^-6 seconds (one microsecond, equivalent to one-millionth of a second). Therefore, such chemicals generated in the processing tank become water vapor when discharged; no dangerous processing is required. On the other hand, processing systems that use ozone can be dangerous since ozone has a longer lifespan of up to 2 hours, necessitating avoidance of the area for a prolonged duration during the process. 

Q10:What are the differences between WEF’s active oxygen technique and conventional Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs)?

Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs), such as Fenton (H2O2/Fe2+), Photo-Fenton (H2O2/UV/Fe2+), and combinations of ultraviolet rays with hydrogen peroxide, are indeed effective for decomposing non-biodegradable materials. However, their broader adoption is limited due to the often higher operational costs associated with these methods.

In contrast, our wastewater active oxygen system, W-Gaia, is designed to generate a high volume of active oxygen while minimizing energy consumption, requiring as little as 50L/min and 100V/12A of electricity. Additionally, we've optimized the system to use only one-fifth the amount of ozone typically required by conventional systems. This contributes to safety, as the potentially harmful ozone is quickly converted into the OH radical, which then diminishes instantly, ensuring the process remains safe throughout.

Q11:Is WEF’s active oxygen technique also used at water purification plants?

Water purification plants are currently grappling with significant challenges. They contend with wastewater containing non-biodegradable materials not only from industrial sources but also from residential areas and agricultural runoff. This wastewater often includes a variety of chemicals such as those found in cosmetics, medicines, pesticides, fuel additives, flame retardants, plasticizers, and more. Many of these substances are classified as Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs), with numerous chemicals identified as carcinogens. Such complex wastewater exceeds the treatment capabilities of conventional purification plants, which are unable to break down these harmful contaminants effectively.

Our processing system, W-Gaia, however, has the capability to generate a substantial amount of OH radicals at a low cost, offering a potential solution for such advanced treatment needs. Due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness, our system presents a viable option that could see broader implementation in water treatment facilities.

Q12:What is the running cost for your active oxygen processing system (AOS)?

Our AOS includes multiple system configurations. Typically, our standard model, equipped with an integrated fan, can produce up to 50 liters of active oxygen (superoxide anion) from 500 liters of air. This process requires only 100V and 12A of electrical power.

In addition, our system has the capability to treat 10 tons of wastewater with high levels of coloring agents, normal hexane, etc., to the standard level of treated water quality as per Japanese regulations. This is achieved by injecting ultra-fine bubbles (UFB) into the water, supplemented by adding 1 liter per minute of ozone to 5 liters per minute of superoxide.

Q13:What is the intellectual property rights status for your active oxygen processing system (AOS) and related equipment?

Our AOS active oxygen processing techniques have been patented in Japan, and applications have been filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) System for international markets. Patents for other related equipment and process engineering are either in the process of being secured or have already been filed.

Q14:Having obtained certification from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), how do you plan to utilize this accreditation to benefit developing countries?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight the need to reduce illegal logging, which explicitly excludes the collection of firewood. In regions where quality fertilizers are unavailable and farmlands lack healthy nutrient cycles, people often resort to deforestation as a solution for new agricultural land. However, this practice can lead to landslides during heavy rainfall, as deforested mountains lack sufficient water retention capacity. Such landslides can strip the fertile topsoil from the land. Consequently, this triggers a destructive cycle: the loss of fertile soil prompts further deforestation, leading to a cyclical pattern that is clearly unsustainable.

Interrupting this harmful cycle requires the availability of cost-effective and efficient fertilizers. Biomass energy derived from plant sources may offer a promising solution for such fertilizers. Consider the water hyacinth — often dubbed the "beautiful blue devil," this invasive species not only disrupts the fishing industry but also contributes to the spread of malaria. Despite concerted efforts by numerous academic institutions to control this plant, effective management has yet to be achieved. The significant challenge lies in the plant's composition, which is nearly 90% water, making it difficult to dry, especially in developing countries where energy resources for processing are limited.

We have successfully processed aquatic plants from Lake Biwa, which have a 98% water content, using our active oxygen processing technique. This method requires minimal energy and effectively converts the plants into mature compost in only 10 days. Active oxygen can rapidly decompose water hyacinths, facilitating the efficient generation of methane gas for use as fuel or in electricity production. 

Additionally, due to its potent bactericidal properties, which include the ability to decompose the coronavirus, active oxygen can be utilized for both decomposition and sterilization of infectious medical waste on-site.

Q15:What plans do you have to further develop your active oxygen techniques in the future?

In line with our corporate name, WEF, which symbolizes our focus on water, energy, and food, we are dedicated to advancing environmental technologies. These are designed with a 'local production for local consumption' philosophy, aiming to strengthen sustainable social infrastructure.

Currently, our efforts are geared towards industries and agricultural operations that produce substantial waste. We've developed an innovative method to process large quantities of excess sludge from wastewater treatment plants. This technique allows us to convert the sludge into a dried form with an energy content of 21 MJ/kg, approaching nearly 80% of the calorific value of coal.

In the agricultural sector, we've efficiently handled agricultural residues and weeds in a cost-effective and timely manner. Importantly, our process also includes the deactivation of weed seeds.

Looking forward, we anticipate that our advanced active oxygen processing technique will supplant traditional ozone processing methods.