ECAR- Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation for Affordable Water Security in AmericaEPA Contract Number: EPD14021
Title: ECAR- Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation for Affordable Water Security in America
Investigators: Pujol, John H
Small Business: SimpleWater
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Project Period: May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2014) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Drinking Water Treatment and Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Arsenic contamination in public drinking water affects as many as 56 million Americans across 25 reporting states, disproportionately threatening low-income communities and private well owners, including those near shale gas deposits undergoing production by hydraulic fracturing. Many of these arsenic-prone communities rely on expensive energy and chemical-intensive processes, such as reverse osmosis, which may only address part of the human health risk of arsenic (removing As[V] but not necessarily As[III]). Despite serious risk to human health, the market for technologies treating arsenic and other heavy metal contaminants (i.e., cadmium, chromium and selenium) lacks a low cost, environmentally friendly, thoroughly-researched and easily operable technology. SimpleWater is seeking funds through EPA/SBIR to commercialize a pilot water treatment project with electrochemical arsenic removal (ECAR) technology; designed to sustainably and affordably remediate arsenic (and other contaminants) for small community water systems in the United States.
In collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), SimpleWater is marketing an ECAR system. The business is targeting small and very small community water sites where patented ECAR technology can affordably reduce local health impacts from arsenic and improve the treatment’s environmental footprint. Interestingly, ECAR research indicates that the technology also removes other heavy metal contaminants and even biological pathogens. These possibilities for expanded treatment also will be explored.
The current maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenic (10 ppb) in the United States likely underestimates the health risk of human arsenic consumption. Prolonged exposure to even low ppb levels of arsenic is known to substantially increase risks of lung, bladder and kidney cancers, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and a decrease in children’s IQ. There is no cure for arsenic poisoning. In fact, the EPA and several U.S. states advocate for tightening the MCL to 5 ppb, a move that would be very expensive and would further divide communities by their ability to pay for expensive removal technologies. ECAR’s development team focused explicitly on designing an ultra-affordable electrocoagulation (EC) system to remediate arsenic, even in the most poor and supply-constrained regions of the world. Ongoing projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India testify that ECAR can reduce arsenic contamination below U.S. and World Health Organization standards and remain locally affordable and profitable.
The unique combination of environmental-safety, well-documented science, low cost, operational ease and continuous development by world class researchers, makes SimpleWater a promising small business to bring cutting-edge technology to disadvantaged communities across America.