Integration of Filtration and Advanced Oxidation: Development of a Membrane Liquid-Phase Plasma Reactor

EPA Grant Number: R835332
Title: Integration of Filtration and Advanced Oxidation: Development of a Membrane Liquid-Phase Plasma Reactor
Investigators: Bellona, Christopher , Dickenson, Eric , Holsen, Thomas M. , Mededovic Thagard, Selma
Institution: Clarkson University , Southern Nevada Water Authority
Current Institution: Clarkson University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Project Period: August 16, 2012 through August 15, 2016 (Extended to August 15, 2017)
Project Amount: $499,779
RFA: Research and Demonstration of Innovative Drinking Water Treatment Technologies in Small Systems (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Drinking Water Treatment , Water


The main objective of this study is to engineer, develop and demonstrate an integrated process comprised of membrane technology (i.e., ceramic NF, UF or MF) and electrical discharge plasma generated via a novel reticulated vitreous carbon (RVC) electrode material. The reasons for this integration are four-fold: (1) the novel RVC electrode material will significantly improve the efficiency and longevity of the electrical discharge; (2) the membrane process protects the porous electrode material from clogging and removes constituents targeted in conventional water treatment processes and that reduce the effectiveness of the advanced oxidation processes; (3) both the membrane and electrical discharge remove pathogens; and (4) electrical discharge is effective for the destruction of a wide variety of organic contaminants and contaminant precursors.

The major hypotheses that will be tested are as follows:

H1: Significant energy reduction and increases contaminant degradation rates can be achieved by optimizing the RVC electrode porosity, thickness and configuration, and power supply parameters.
H2: The electrical discharge results in fundamentally different reaction pathways than ‘conventional’ AOPs due to reactions with UV light and reductive species.
H3: Degradation efficiency can be significantly improved by the removal of particles and dissolved organic matter by membrane treatment.
H4: The membrane/plasma technology can be scaled to larger systems.


A tiered approach will be undertaken to achieve the overall project goal of demonstrating the integrated membrane/plasma process as an innovative, affordable, sustainable and effective treatment technology for small treatment systems. The team will first use a regimented approach to carefully select contaminants to investigate and evaluate the plasma process. Fundamental bench-scale studies will then be undertaken to investigate and optimize the plasma and membrane systems as individual and integrated processes. Findings from fundamental studies will be used to develop a scalable engineered membrane/plasma process that will be tested under carefully controlled conditions. Finally, long-term testing will be conducted with the developed system at small treatment systems to fully demonstrate the scalable membrane/plasma system.

Expected Results:

The successful development of this process will result in a technology that is scalable, robust, requires minimal chemical input, has a small foot-print, and achieves a finished water quality better than treatment systems that require multiple technologies. Through careful selection of contaminants to elucidate plasma reaction mechanisms and evaluate plasma efficiency, we will demonstrate the effectiveness and this process for removing broad groups of contaminants. The developed process will have unique treatment capabilities (i.e., targets both suspended and dissolved constituents) enabling the production of high-quality water from impaired sources, which will foster water recycling, a decreased reliance on imported water, and more efficient management of water supplies.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Drinking water, chemicals, engineering, innovative technology, membrane filtration, Advanced Oxidation, Plasma Reactor,

Progress and Final Reports:

2013 Progress Report
2014 Progress Report