Reactive Nanobubble for Algae and Cyanotoxin Removal

EPA Grant Number: SU839451
Title: Reactive Nanobubble for Algae and Cyanotoxin Removal
Investigators: Zhang, Wen , Reif, John A , Shi, Xiaonan
Institution: New Jersey Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: December 1, 2018 through November 30, 2019
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2018) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities


This research project aims to devise a green sustainable process based on reactive nanobubbles (NBs) technology to control and mitigate harmful algal blooms (HABs). NBs may potentially be produced with air, oxygen, ozone or other reactive gases that promote rapid oxidation and decomposition of algae and associated organic contaminants (e.g., cyanotoxin). Although there has been a growing number of NBs applications (e.g., detergent-free cleaning, water aeration, ultra-sound imaging and intracellular drug delivery, and mineral processing), its potential as a water purification technology remains largely unexplored. The fundamental chemistry of NBs and antimicrobial mechanisms are also not well understood. Accordingly, this project aim to address knowledge gaps to better understand and utilize the unique characteristics of NBs (such as high colloidal stability) and high reactivity (e.g., radical formation) in water dispersion for environmental applications. Our project aims to provide a green technology to protect human health and water quality, especially for impaired water bodies in suburban or rural areas and communities, where the advanced centralized water treatment facilities are lacking.


The proposed research will support EPA's current priorities in safe and sustainable water resources. Firstly, the project will lead to integrated and scalable NB systems to tackle several pressing challenges in HABs and cyanotoxins mitigation in surface waters and improve water quality of impaired water bodies. Particularly, reactive gaseous NBs, if properly designed, could potentially lead to green treatment processes without leaving any chemical residuals or producing any DBPs. So that a chemical-free processes could be possibly achieved, which could reduce the process cost in the long run. The project research will be translated into new teaching modules, laboratory manuals, innovative learning activities, and professional development activities targeted at a diverse student population. Interdisciplinary research training and educational activities are included in collaboration with industrial partners and USGS. These partnerships will lead to effective data dissemination to communities, municipalities, states, and drinking water managers to better control and mitigate HABs, make better decisions related to resource and funding management, and prevent human- and animal-health impacts.

Expected Results:

To explore these research questions, this project will employ cutting-edge and unique technologies such as FlowCam cell counting and hyperspectral imaging to examine interfacial processes of NBs on algal cells such as cell damage and cyanotoxin release or elimination mechanisms. Our research outcomes will be important for the science and engineering communities to mitigate wide algal blooms's impacts on water quality and drinking water security. The research outputs will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals, guidance documents, decision support tools, demonstration, reports, and presentations on the control and mitigation of freshwater HABs. These achievement and quality could be tracked and measured by the number and quality of our peer-reviewed article publications, oral/poster presentations in workshops or conferences, US patents, partnerships and field tests. Our team will partner with the USGS NJ Water Science Center (USGS NJWSC) in both research and educational outreach related to HAB mitigation in water. We will also share our research findings and obtain feedback from the local water treatment purveyors (e.g., Passaic Valley Water Commission, New Jersey American at Short Hills and North Jersey District Water Supply Commission). This project embodies the P3 approach and aims to develop sustainable solutions using reactive nanobubbles that protect the environment, improve water quality of our communities, and create economic benefits.

Contribution to Pollution Prevention or Control: The essence of developing green nanobubble (NB)-based water treatment technologies is to reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous materials or chemicals as we traditionally use in water treatment or pollution control. Secondly, NBs will be demonstrated to achieve advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) that efficiently remove algae as well as cyanotoxin without byproduct formation. Therefore, the success of this project will lead to transformative technologies for pollution prevention and control in impaired water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 13 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

nanobubble technology, advanced oxidation process, environmental chemistry, AOP algal removal, harmful algal bloom, advanced oxidation, green chemistry, sustainable water treatment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Development of Reactive Nanobubble Systems for Efficient and Scalable Harmful Algae and Cyanotoxin Removal  | 2021 Progress Report