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Comprehensive Assessment of Mycofiltration Biotechnology to Remove Pathogens from Urban Storm WaterEPA Contract Number: EPD12010
Title: Comprehensive Assessment of Mycofiltration Biotechnology to Remove Pathogens from Urban Storm Water
Investigators: Stamets, Paul
Small Business: Fungi Perfecti LLC
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2012) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Water and Wastewater , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
This Small Business Innovation Research project will explore the development of mycofiltration – the use of fungal mycelium as a biologically active filter for removing pathogens from stormwater. As pollution from pathogens is the leading cause of critically impaired waters nationwide, with stormwater strongly linked to this contamination, this cutting-edge research is a timely response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s focus on safe and sustainable water resources. Although there is substantial evidence that many fungi consume bacteria and secrete antibacterial metabolites, mycological research has remained largely isolated to ecological and pharmaceutical explorations. The proposed mycofiltration research will expand knowledge of the application of fungal biotechnology in an innovative and interdisciplinary way by tying together the fields of public health, environmental engineering and mycology. The research will seek to identify which fungal species and cultivation methods can filter pathogens from stormwater while meeting the physical and temporal demands required for commercialization. These objectives will be accomplished through a university-industry collaboration that will use E. coli removal as a model for pathogen filtration to evaluate the efficacy of mycofilters that meet industry-mandated permeability and resiliency requirements for stormwater treatment. This research is anticipated to confirm that fungal mycelium can remove E. coli from flowing water, and that mycofilters can be developed to meet design requirements to treat municipal stormwater runoff.
The development of mycofiltration technology will have wide-ranging water treatment implications, strong commercial applications and broad benefits to society. Successful laboratory proof-of-concept data (Phase I) will confirm the hypothesis that fungal mycelium can be used as a living water filter – an approach that has a wide range of water treatment implications, including treatment of a broad array of contaminants. Advanced development and field efficacy data (Phase II) will support the commercial development of mycofiltration as a low-cost, low-impact, and low-footprint technology for removing pathogens from stormwater. The potential value of this applied research effort is a stormwater treatment system that enhances the ability of municipalities to improve stormwater quality while supporting an innovative small business. This technology will broadly benefit society by providing cleaner water for recreation and commercial fishing. Additionally, the research will be disseminated broadly through the principal investigator's established world-wide speaking engagements, thereby generating interest, engagement and understanding of the place of mycology and innovation in solving the complex problem of non-point water pollution.