Hazardous Waste Management Using a New Sparker Process

EPA Contract Number: EPD06033
Title: Hazardous Waste Management Using a New Sparker Process
Investigators: Schaefer, Raymond B.
Small Business: Phoenix Science and Technology Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2006 through August 31, 2006
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Waste , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , Hazardous Waste/Remediation


The goal of this Phase I project is to develop a new “Sparker” process for treating organic hazardous contaminants in water and liquid waste, including persistent and bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Sparker technology also has potential for in situ treatment of dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) and sludge.

Sparkers are pulsed electrical discharges between electrodes in water that generate ultraviolet (UV) light, OH radicals, a strong pressure gradient, and a sonicating bubble and offer a possible multimode process for treating water.  The multimode process may prove effective for treating dark water and sludge.  Sparkers, as a potential replacement for UV lamps, are free of mercury, robust, and potentially lower in cost.  Because sparkers are immersed directly in the water, they have no fragile envelope that needs to be cleaned.

This Phase I will use an innovative, patented sparker with intense UV emission, which has been used to treat water contaminated with the herbicide atrazine (ATZ) and industrial contaminated n-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).  The sparker reduced contaminants with higher destruction rates and consumed less electricity than UV lamps.  This preliminary demonstration is the basis of the proposed research aimed at developing a commercial sparker process for use in hazardous waste management.

The overall objective of Phase I is to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology in treating a range of PBTs and PAHs through the treatment of a benzo(a)pyrene, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) PBT list, and fluorine, a PAH on the EPA Priority Pollutants List.  Phase I also will test for the generation of breakdown byproducts, evaluate sparker operation in dark water and sludge, and address potential for in-situ water treatment.

A successful Phase I will lead to a Phase II to conduct further research and develop the sparker process into a prototype for subsequent commercialization.  An internationally known water treatment researcher and the largest UV water treatment company in North America are collaborators on this project.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, sparker technology, organic contaminants, water treatment, persistent and bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals, PBTs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs, EPA,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Waste, Environmental Chemistry, Hazardous Waste, Hazardous, Environmental Engineering, hazardous liquid waste, hazardous waste management, advanced treatment technologies, DNAPL, PAH, electrolytic reduction, atrazine, liquid hazardous waste

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report