Non-Thermal Plasma Assisted Inactivation of AntibioticResistantBacteriain Wastewater

EPA Contract Number: 68HERD19C0007
Title: Non-Thermal Plasma Assisted Inactivation of AntibioticResistantBacteriain Wastewater
Investigators: Bailey, Charles
Small Business: AAPlasma, LLC
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: May 1, 2019 through October 31, 2019
Project Amount: $99,998
RFA: Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) PHASE I (2018) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): Phase 1 (2019) , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Water and Wastewater

Description:

Factors such as an increase in global antibiotic availability, inadequate treatment of wastewater from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, uncontrolled or over-the-counter antibiotic sales, and high antibiotic use in livestock feed have led to the rapidly-developing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB). This rise in infection incidence from pathogens resistant to our main medical defenses pose a serious problem to public health.

 AAPlasma proposes a novel and affordable integration of a gliding arc discharge (GAD) plasma treatment system into existing wastewater treatment infrastructure that offers better protection from the three largest factors in that lead to antimicrobial risks: antibiotics, ARB, and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in industrial wastewater.

 Current wastewater treatment measures are ineffective at reducing the number of ARB, with some unit processes in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) even exacerbating the problem by offering a favorable environment for bacteria to thrive. Even while some wastewater treatment processes can lyse ARB, intact remnants of ARG-containing DNA that are released into the environment from WWTP effluents can eventually be taken up by other cells through natural transformation; presently, the mechanistic effects of different wastewater treatment processes on intracellular and extracellular DNA is not well-studied. Furthermore, the removal efficiency of antibiotics during wastewater treatment is highly variable, depending on the physicochemical properties of the antibiotic and the design and operation conditions of the WWTP.

 AAPlasma, with the support of Drexel University's Nyheim Plasma Institute (NPI), will use the EPA's SBIR funding opportunity to develop this proposed technology into a commercial system that can answer to the shortcomings in existing water treatment technologies for the reduction of ARB and ARGs and the removal of antibiotics from industrial wastewater before it enters the environment.

 Previous research performed by members of the project team are promising. In Phase I of this SBIR project, AAPlasma will verify this technology's feasibility though several research objectives: (1) verify plasma's inactivation efficacy of ARB, (2) verify antibiotic degradation efficacy of plasma, (3) demonstrate plasma degradation/damage of antibiotic resistance genes, (4) demonstrate advantages of GAD plasma over existing solutions, (5) perform regulatory pathway and lifecycle analysis, and (6) prepare a detailed plan to scale-up this technology in Phase II.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report