Low Cost, Efficient Microchannel Plasma Ozone Generator for Point of Use Water Treatment

EPA Contract Number: EPD13019
Title: Low Cost, Efficient Microchannel Plasma Ozone Generator for Point of Use Water Treatment
Investigators: Herring, Cyrus M
Small Business: EP Purification, Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: May 13, 2013 through November 14, 2013
Project Amount: $79,915
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Water


A team of EP Purification and the University of Illinois engineers and chemists is pursuing the commercialization of low-cost microchannel plasma modules capable of efficiently producing ozone for water treatment. The conservation of water resources for human consumption is a growing national priority. Contamination of ground municipal water by animal manure, fertilizer and pharmaceuticals, for example, is posing an increasing hazard for human health. Ozone is a unique purification agent as it is the strongest oxidant and disinfect available commercially. It is known to be extremely effective for neutralizing pathogens (bacteria, viruses, cysts) and some pesticides, making it ideal for the disinfection of water, grain and vegetables. Another benefit of using ozone is that minimal disinfection byproducts or residues are produced during its use, as compared with chlorination. Also, ozonation is generally regarded as being superior to traditional disinfection through chlorination because the latter requires hazardous chemicals, produces carcinogenic byproducts when reacting with hydrocarbons in water, and leaves much to be desired from an environmental perspective. The primary drawback of ozonation for utility and consumer applications is cost and power consumption. This Phase I proposal leverages technology developed at the University of Illinois and EP Purification to realize low cost and yet robust ozone generators based on massively parallel plasmachemical processing of O2/N2 mixtures in large arrays of microcavity plasmas. Modules producing ozone at concentrations higher than 5 weight percent on efficiency of at least 180 g/kWh will be designed in Phase I, and Phase II will demonstrate and characterize a 100 g/hour ozone generator for treating water in small/medium system applications that is superior to existing technology in cost (capital and operating), efficiency and size.

The microplasma technology proposed here has several advantages over conventional large-scale corona discharge systems that are currently used for municipal water treatment. Based on microchannels fabricated inexpensively in alumina (Al2O3), this technology has already been shown to be efficient (>180 g/kWh at .3 wt.% O3) and robust but at much lower system weight and cost for equivalent production. With respect to the latter, lifetimes beyond 1600 hours of continuous operation in an accelerated aging test have already been demonstrated. Our design philosophy is to produce robust, inexpensive and fully recyclable modules, comprising 200 to 300 microchannels, as the ”building block” for O3 production, allowing the ozone production rate (kg/h) to be readily scaled to the value demanded by an application.

Supplemental Keywords:

Water Disinfection and Remediation, Ozonation, Microplasma, Microchannel

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final
  • SBIR Phase II:

    Low Cost, Efficient Microchannel Plasma Ozone System for Point of Use Water Treatment