Nontoxic Exotic Species/Organic Compound Waterway Contamination Control

EPA Contract Number: 68D02052
Title: Nontoxic Exotic Species/Organic Compound Waterway Contamination Control
Investigators: James, Patrick I.
Small Business: Eltron Research & Development Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: June 1, 2002 through June 1, 2004
Project Amount: $224,993
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2002) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Watersheds , SBIR - Water and Wastewater , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Ballast water discharge may contaminate receiving waters, creating an extremely pervasive problem in which control/mitigation after introduction is very expensive. Thus, prevention is paramount. This project will develop an automated, modular, pilot-scale add-on ballast treatment system based on the electrocatalytic onsite H2O2 solution generation technology demonstrated in Phase I. Phase II efforts will further refine the technology and its implementation, develop a prototype system capable of treating volumes sufficient for field testing, and further explore the effectiveness/applicability of the chemistry generated. This technology seeks to effectively and practically address the waterway biological/chemical contamination problem via vessel retrofitting while restricting cost, labor, and recordkeeping requirements as prescribed by the National Invasive Species Act of 1996.

Eltron Research Inc.'s technology utilizes a novel electrolytic cell to produce environmentally gentle, noncorrosive sterilization/purification H2O2-containing solutions onsite with minimal consumable use. This advantageous technology produces the chemicals on demand at safe concentrations, thus avoiding major transportation and storage costs and considerations, and it readily allows automation. The technology: (1) employs modular hardware, allowing adaptation to specific contamination conditions and vessel sizes as well as simple and compact equipment; (2) requires less energy than ozone generation; and (3) is not overly affected by the system's turbidity or geometry. The chemistry produced is versatile and compatible (synergistically) with other candidate physical technologies, such as ultraviolet (UV) and ultrasonic irradiation or filtration. Additionally, it should be applicable to the treatment of other systems experiencing contamination, biofouling, and possibly scaling problems.

Phase I results clearly indicate that the targeted electrolytic technology works effectively and under the conditions expected for ballast water treatment. A preferred cell design that improves the technology's practicality while employing low-cost construction materials was conceived, established, and demonstrated to be effective. The central aspects of the prototype pilot-scale breadboard stack design were identified and selected. Comparison of this competitive and viable alternative target technology with high- efficiency UV systems indicates similar power consumption, while costing only about one-half as much.

The target technology will be useful to small-scale users of H2O2 and provides a low-cost (capital and operation and maintenance), safe (no harsh chemical storage, environmentally gentle), and versatile (biologic and organic contaminants, non-point-of-contact treatment, distributed treatment systems) alternative to other water disinfection/treatment technologies. The technology is expected to find general application for the noncorrosive, nonhazardous inhibition of biofouling in applications such as cooling towers, heat exchanger recirculation loops, and filtration systems.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, water treatment, water, engineering, chemistry, EPA, noncorrosive sterilization, H2O2, biofouling, vessel ballast water, bilge water, disinfection, purification, RFA, Water, Water & Watershed

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Nontoxic Exotic Species/Organic Compound Waterway Contamination Control