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PowerTech Water, LLC

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Superfund Research Program

Targeted Lead (Pb) Removal for Drinking Water Purification Using INCION

Project Leader: Lindsay Boehme
Grant Number: R44ES028171
Funding Period: Phase II: September 2019 - August 2021

Summary

Lead contamination in drinking water is a pervasive health problem across the U.S. Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can have permanent detrimental effects on brain development. Despite corrosion prevention measures taken by public water authorities, lead concentrations in drinking water are routinely elevated nationwide. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established The Lead and Copper Rule in 1991 to limit exposure of these elements and set the action level to 15 ppb; however, there is no safe level of lead consumption. The crisis observed in Flint, Michigan in 2014 put lead exposure into the public spotlight, increasing consumer awareness.

Lead filters currently on the market lack specificity with limited device lifetime dictated by the total amount of water volume filtered, regardless of lead concentration. PowerTech Water’s (PTW) INCION M-Series technology platform is a multifunctional chemical/electrochemical approach with ≥ 90 percent specificity for lead removal termed "capacitive coagulation"; a hybrid of adsorption (capacitive) and immobilization (coagulation) mechanisms that permanently remove all forms of dissolved lead, both complexed and free ions.

In this Phase II project, PTW’s goal is to understand how to develop and validate a second generation INCION M-series point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) system for dissolved lead removal from drinking water that exceeds the performance of current off-the-shelf solutions. The device will be reliable and specific for lead, have a multi-year system lifetime, and will not be consumed by abundant water constituents. These performance targets will be achieved through the following Specific Aims: (1) Factorial design of experiments testing to meet certification. Expected outcome: INCION M-Series performance to meet NSF certification standards NSF/ANSI 53 and 61. (2) Investigate electrochemical coagulation mechanisms to tune operating parameters for specific water chemistries. Expected outcomes: Determine the operating parameters that will best exploit capacitive coagulation for lead removal in different water sources and develop an operating matrix. (3) Parametric testing of system operations toward the design of a POU/POE device. Expected outcome: A set of design specifications to develop the INCION device into a commercial product.

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