Final Report: 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 purpose of the Phase I research project was to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a new “sparker” process for treating hazardous waste in water and liquid wastes (including sludge) contaminated with persistent and bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Phase I research included the development of a laboratory scale sparker batch reactor to test sparker remediation of PAHs. The sparker was characterized both electrically and optically for UV output, which led to a reliable sparker with an optimized discharge gap spacing. Using this sparker, remediation tests were conducted on two PAHs, fluorene and dibenzothiophene in “clean” water (with and without peroxide), as well as dark water and sludge, with organic particle suspension. Water samples were taken for different numbers of sparker pulses and corresponding destruction rates determined. The rates were compared with available UV rates, and electrical energy per unit volume per order of destruction was determined.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Phoenix Science & Technology built a laboratory scale batch reactor with a volume of 1.04 liters to test sparker remediation of PAHs. The sparker discharge was characterized both electrically and for UV output. From these tests, a reliable sparker with optimized discharge gap spacing was developed. Using this sparker, Phoenix Science & Technology conducted remediation tests of two PAHs—fluorene and dibenzothiophene—in “clean” water (with and without peroxide), dark water, and sludge (dark, organic particle suspension).

These tests showed that the sparker performs similar to a medium pressure mercury lamp on a UV-dose basis in “clean” water. In addition, the sparker produced measurable remediation in dark water and sludge where UV and a UV/peroxide advanced oxidation process are considered ineffective. The destruction rates in dark water and sludge were much higher than would be expected based on UV dose alone, suggesting additional mechanisms.


The prime application of this technology is the treatment of hazardous waste in water and sludge, specifically of PBTs and PAHs, where new and improved treatments are needed. Another application is the in-situ treatment of DNAPLs and sludge. More generally, sparker technology has the potential to replace mercury lamps used for water treatment.

Supplemental Keywords:

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