Skip Navigation

Yale University

Superfund Research Program

Modular, Chemical-Free Advanced Oxidation of 1,4-Dioxane and its Co-Contaminants in Ground Water

Project Leader: Jaehong Kim (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Grant Number: P42ES033815
Funding Period: 2022-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

Project-Specific Links

Connect with the Grant Recipients

Visit the grantee's eNewsletter page Visit the grantee's Twitter page Visit the grantee's Video page Visit the grantee's Video page

Project Summary (2022-2027)

The goal of this remediation project is to design, fabricate, test, and implement point-of-use, small- scale, water treatment systems that can remove 1,4-dioxane (1,4-DX) and its frequently co-occurring contaminants, trichloroethylene (TCE), 1,1-dichloroethane (1,1-DCA) and 1,1,1,-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), from contaminated ground water. The advanced oxidation process (AOP)–the process that employs highly reactive •OH as main oxidant–is considered to be the most effective among established water treatment methods for the destruction of these contaminants. However, enabling AOP in a small-scale, distributed system (i.e., in contrast to centralized large-scale treatment and water delivery through a network of pipe) is technically challenging due to the requirement for a precursor chemical (such as H2O2) that needs to be activated on site to produce •OH and the high energy demand.

The research team is working to synthesize efficient catalyst materials, engineer various components of the system, and fabricate two highly-innovative prototype AOP reactors. The first reactor employs a new catalyst that can selectively produce high concentrations of H2O2 using only water and oxygen as a source. The produced H2O2 is activated by another newly-developed catalyst to produce •OH without any external energy/chemical supplies and without producing undesirable byproducts (which would otherwise require additional treatment). Coupled together, this catalytic system enables for the first time AOP of ground water in a small, compact, distributed water treatment system. The second reactor employs a nanobubble technology. In this system, ambient air is introduced to the water in the form of nanobubbles which collapse to produce •OH that destroys 1,4-DX. Strategies to enhance the production of •OH through promotion of effective bubble collapse are being developed. Unlike any existing AOPs, both reactors do not require continuous supply of chemicals. In addition, they are either solar powered (completely off-grid) or use a much smaller amount of electricity than conventional AOPs that employ ultraviolet (UV) irradiation.

The researchers are testing the performance of prototype reactors and comparing them with benchmark UV/H2O2 process (i.e., adding H2O2 and irradiating UV light). This involves a comprehensive analysis of the efficiency of parent compound (1,4-DX) destruction, as well as the evolution of reaction byproducts. Reduction of the deleterious effects of consuming 1,4-DX-containing water are being investigated in collaboration with the Toxicity and Liver Carcinogenicity of 1,4-Dioxane: Single Chemical and Mixtures Studies project. The prototype reactors undergo testing in select field sites in Region 1 (identified as being contaminated by the Evaluation of Novel Markers of Exposure and Biological Response to 1,4-Dioxane project) to determine their efficiency under real world situations and their activity under long term conditions (employing sensors developed by the Sensors for Water Contaminant Detection and Monitoring project). By promoting the continual removal of 1,4-DX and its co-occurring contaminants from drinking water sources, this project directly reduces human exposure to these pollutants and thereby limit their adverse health effects.

to Top