Superfund Research Program
Bioinspired Green Glycolipids as Fugitive Dust Mitigation Agents
Project Leader: Chett Boxley
Grant Number: R43ES034319
Funding Period: Phase I: May 2022 - April 2023
Ambient air pollution is a leading contributor to global disease burden that increases morbidity and mortality, and it accounted for 4.2 million deaths in 2015. Mineral dusts are a constituent of total atmospheric particulate matter that affect global biogeochemical cycles, pollute water bodies and air masses, and impact global climate. Dust presents physical (i.e., reduced visibility and explosive mixtures) and health hazards, particularly affecting cardiovascular and respiratory health. Mining generates dust in virtually every step of the mining process: excavating, blasting, stockpiling, crushing, grinding, and transport. Dust generated from both modern and legacy mining operations is known to be an exposure route for other contaminants (e.g. arsenic and lead). To protect human and environmental health from mining related dusts, it is important to develop innovative, environmentally-compatible technologies capable of mitigating dust emissions. Preliminary data has demonstrated glycolipid surfactants are effective dust suppressants with efficacy equal to or better than currently available products. Though a variety of dust suppression products are commercially available, disadvantages provide market opportunities that new technologies can address: (i) they are often corrosive to machinery, (ii) they can cause potential risks to human health due to hazardous components, and (iii) they have short-term effectiveness due to the fragility of the protection layer that can be easily disrupted by environmental factors, such as strong wind. The overall goal of this Phase I SBIR is to demonstrate the commercial potential for a next generation green dust suppression technology that combines GlycoSurf's proprietary glycolipid surfactants with cellulose polymers to develop marketable dust suppression formulations for two applications: mine tailings that are not subject to mechanical disturbance and unpaved haul roads that undergo substantial mechanical disturbance. The Phase 1 Aims are two-fold. In Aim 1, unique formulations of glycolipids, alone and in combination with cellulose polymers, will be generated with target performance parameters suitable for tailings and unpaved road applications. In Aim 2, these formulations will be tested for dust suppression efficacy and resistance to environmental factors such as UV radiation, precipitation, and high temperature. The stability of glycolipid treatments will also be assessed against mechanical disruption via compression testing. A step-wise testing process will be used to develop formulations that achieve a Good Air Quality Index as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Successful completion of this project will result in the identification of candidate formulations with potential for marketability. These candidate products will subsequently undergo field testing during Phase II research to demonstrate their efficacy protecting environmental and human health under real-world conditions.