Final Report: New Process for Perchlorate Reduction in Drinking Water Treatment Units

EPA Contract Number: EPD06025
Title: New Process for Perchlorate Reduction in Drinking Water Treatment Units
Investigators: Nowicki, Henry G.
Small Business: Professional Analytical and Consulting Services Inc. (PACS)
EPA Contact: Richards, April
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: Drinking Water , SBIR - Water and Wastewater , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Removal of perchlorate from drinking water supplies and groundwaters at military bases has the attention of many professionals. Public awareness of the perchlorate problem is expected to increase because of the recent announcement in Chemical and Engineering News (September 4, 2006) that Massachusetts set a 2-ppb perchlorate drinking water standard in late July 2006, and California set a 6-ppb proposed standard on August 28, 2006. Although these two states have many sites with known perchlorate problems, this issue also is a concern of many other states. It appears to be a large scale and growing problem, which needs to be corrected. Removing perchlorate from drinking water and groundwater is the focus of this research project.

Cleaning up drinking water to meet recent state standards will require new cost-effective sorbents. The primary markets for these new sorbents will be point-of-use (POU), point-of-entry (POE), municipal drinking water plants, and military sites, which will need to control perchlorate containing aquifer plumes from migrating into nearby water supplies. These markets will increase because of the recent regulatory drinking water standard.

New state standards will raise the threshold for acceptable remediation of perchlorate- tainted aquifers managed at military bases and municipal drinking water authorities. Many of these facilities presently use granular activated carbon (GAC) to control regulated and aesthetic organic pollutants. GAC, however, is not economical because it does not have sufficient capacity for the new state perchlorate treatment standards. Phase I results for this research project appear capable of satisfying this market opportunity by commercializing a specialty GAC with an increased capacity for perchlorate.

During Phase I, Professional Analytical and Consulting Services, Inc. (PACS) prepared a modified GAC, which had an approximately 50- fold increase in perchlorate capacity over the host GAC. This new process for drinking water treatment units appears quite feasible. The new GAC products had favorable outcomes during small-scale column and isotherm performance evaluations.

There are several logical next steps to maximize the new GAC for even better performance. The new perchlorate reduction activity gained by specialty GAC is not expected to decrease its organic compounds adsorption capacity nor decrease its ability to reduce chlorine taste and odor by reductive chemical reaction. This multi-purpose, specialty GAC needs to be evaluated and compared to host GAC for organic compound and reductive chlorine capacities; this is planned for Phase II.

The new sorbent performed well when used in a commercial cartridge in a pour-through pitcher. The sorbent lasted 60 days, whereas the host carbon lasted only 7 days, clearly showing the advantages of modified GAC over host GAC. Longer run times need to be performed in Phase II.

An important niche product advanced during this project is the gravimetric rapid pore size distribution (GRPD) determination technology. The GRPD method offers cross-cutting advancement for the sorbent industry, including activated carbons. PACS hopes to help provide GRPD commercial instruments worldwide, so other countries can benefit from the knowledge it offers. In this research project, GRPD was used to select the best activated carbon for the POU drinking water treatment unit market. Several coconut shell-based GACs were evaluated as hosts of the impregnant materials. The GRPD advanced test method gives users sorbent information not available from classical testing methods. (An example of a GRPD report is available on request from GRPD provides the number of adsorption binding sites and their strength of binding in calories per cubic centimeter (cal/cc). The GRPD instrumental method enables construction of isotherms for target compounds, pore sizes, and BET surface area of determinations.

PACS is seeking instrument vendors interested in collaborating to commercialize the GRPD instrumental technology. Results from this project have positioned PACS to move forward with commercializing sorbents for the emerging perchlorate market in both small-scale POU devices and large adsorbers at military bases and municipal drinking water plants.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Perchlorate interferes with the functioning of the human thyroid gland; a primary concern is its link to deleterious fetal development. Because perchlorate exposure is predominantly through drinking water, it should be removed, especially for child bearing women. This is PACS’ goal. PACS has developed a new specialty GAC with an increased capacity for perchlorate for this purpose. Performance of t he new sorbent materials was evaluated in isotherms, small-scale columns, and a commercial POU pour-through pitcher. The performance data support PACS’ claim of an enhanced, necessary perchlorate capacity addition to GAC.


PACS has at least five future commercialization opportunities, including: POU manufacturers; POE manufacturers; military and National Aeronautics and Space Administration bases; municipal drinking water plants; and GRPD commercial instruments and associated training school, repairs, quality checks, and independent GRPD sample analysis by the laboratory at PACS.

During Phase I, PACS developed a viable new commercial sorbent for removing perchlorate from drinking water, for which there is an emerging marketplace. Although downstream markets are difficult to estimate, there currently appear to be many potential customers. The new sorbent is a patentable product; in the short-term, it should be commercialized. For long-term use, the sorbent product can be expanded so it is more inclusive. The short- and long-term project needs will be presented in the Phase II proposal.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 8 publications 2 publications in selected types All 2 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Nowicki H, Sherman B. Activated carbon:advanced test method. Water Conditioning and Purification 2006;48(3):32-36.
full text available
EPD06025 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Nowicki H, Sherman B. Advanced activated carbon test method:new GRPD versus classical iodine number and BET surface area. Water Conditioning and Purification 2006;48(4):28-35.
abstract available  
EPD06025 (Final)
  • Abstract: WCP Online Archives
  • Supplemental Keywords:

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