Development of New Wastewater Infrastructure Systems With Enhanced Durability and Structural Efficiency

EPA Contract Number: 68D03065
Title: Development of New Wastewater Infrastructure Systems With Enhanced Durability and Structural Efficiency
Investigators: Chowdhury, Habibur
Small Business: Technova Corporation
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: October 1, 2003 through December 31, 2004
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2003) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , Water and Watersheds , SBIR - Water and Wastewater


Concrete components (pipes, manholes, etc.) represent close to one-half of the investment in sewer infrastructure. In recent years, incidents of severe damage to concrete-based sanitary sewer systems have increased significantly. Microbial-induced corrosion has been identified as the primary cause of this growing problem. New environmental regulations have led to a significant rise in microbial activity within wastewater systems. Sulfuric acid is generated by a sequence of microbial ecosystems in sanitary sewer systems and attacks concrete and undermines its longevity. Recent research has provided substantial insight into this mode of concrete deterioration. This information, complemented with a fundamental view of the material science of concrete, provides a solid basis for developing effective solutions to the problem. Traditional structural designs relying solely on corrosion-prone steel reinforcement further undermine the efficiency and durability of concrete-based sewer infrastructure. Recent advances in synthetic fiber reinforcement offer the potential to substantially enhance the structural efficiency of concrete-based sewer systems.

Technova Corporation, in cooperation with the concrete pipe industry and Michigan State University, has taken a comprehensive approach towards development of a new generation of concrete-based sewer infrastructure with significantly enhanced corrosion resistance and structural efficiency. Control of microbial-induced corrosion is accomplished through a multifaceted approach that mitigates the chemical, physical, and microbial damage phenomena through refinement of the concrete pore structure, transport attributes, chemistry, and amenability to microbial growth. High modulus synthetic fibers also are employed in the design of more efficient concrete pipes of reduced steel ratio with improved protection of steel, streamlined geometry, and enhanced structural performance. Laboratory and field investigations of concrete materials were complemented during Phase I with industrial production and large-scale structural evaluation of concrete pipes embodying new structural designs. The Phase I research project validated the technical value and commercial promise of selected strategies; major life-cycle cost savings could be realized from implementation of such strategies.

The severity of the problem and the Phase I success enabled Technova Corporation to attract a $120,000 commitment and major in-kind contributions from the concrete pipe, cement, and concrete admixture industries and municipalities to further develop and commercialize the technology. This Phase II research project will develop optimum multicomponent additive formulations embodying the successful strategies of Phase I for cost-effective enhancement of concrete resistance to microbial-induced corrosion, and will develop structural designs that effectively integrate synthetic fibers with conventional steel reinforcement for enhancement of structural efficiency. Thorough physical, mechanical, chemical, and microbial characterizations of selected concrete formulations in the context of optimization experimental programs will provide the basis to select multicomponent additive formulations and fiber reinforcement systems. Structural and durability design methodologies will be developed and verified to enable effective use of the new technologies. Thorough commercialization planning will be an integral component of Phase II. The followup Phase II Option will: (1) validate and refine the material systems and structural designs through long-term laboratory and field studies, (2) implement competitive life-cycle cost analyses, and (3) refine and initiate efforts towards commercial introduction of the technology.

Sewer pipes represent $1.8 billion in annual sales in the United States. The markets for additives in sanitary sewer pipes are estimated at $20 million per year. Technova Corporation has joined forces with a major concrete admixture supplier, targeting close to a 5 percent share of the concrete pipe additive market after 5 years of commercialization. In addition, direct licensing of new structural technologies to concrete pipe manufacturers is estimated to reach a 7 percent share of total concrete pipe markets, yielding an estimated $300,000 per year royalty income 5 years into commercialization.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, concrete-based sewer system, concrete pipe, sewer infrastructure, microbial-induced corrosion, sulfuric acid, steel reinforcement, synthetic fiber, Scientific Discipline, Water, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Wastewater, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, Water Pollution Control, wastewater treatment, microbial degradation, municipal sewers, wastewater pipeline, microbial-induced corrosion, concrete , concrete materials, municipal wastewater, wastewater systems, synthetic fiber, sewer infrastructure

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Development of New Concrete-Based Wastewater Infrastructure Systems With Enhanced Durability, Structural Efficiency, and Hydrological Performance  | Final Report