Superfund Research Program
Electrochemical POU Water Purification System
Project Leader: Lindsay Boehme
Grant Number: SB1ES028171
Funding Period: Phase II: May 2022 - April 2024
Lead contamination in drinking water is a pervasive health problem across the US.1 Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can have permanent detrimental effects on brain development.2,3 Despite corrosion prevention measures taken by public water authorities, lead concentrations in drinking water are routinely elevated nationwide, and an estimated 12 million lead services lines are in need of replacement.4 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 and more stringent regulations are starting to be adopted around the world.5-8 The crisis observed in Flint, Michigan in 2014 put lead exposure into the public spotlight increasing consumer awareness. Seven years later, lead contamination of drinking water supplies remains a national issue. 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. Incumbent solutions for home water purification are archaic and outdated. ElectraMetTM from PowerTech Water (PTW) is an electrochemical filter that can target the removal of lead. The device uses activated carbon electrodes and a small applied voltage (< 2.0 V) to induce Faradaic reactions at both the carbon-based anodes and cathodes within the cell. By tuning the device configuration and operating parameters, lead will precipitate out of solution, and be permanently removed while other dissolved minerals are left unaffected. In this CRP project, the research team's goal is to design a POU device that meets target end-use product specifications and certification standards. At the completion of this work, the researchers anticipate a consumer-focused device 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. Product form factor design for a POU solution. Expected outcome: A design that fits under the sink and meets product specifications for the overall device size, pressure tolerance, price point, and lead removal performance. 2. Replication of testing standards to obtain drinking water filtration certifications. Expected Outcome: ElectraMetTM performance to meet NSF/ANSI 53 and 61 certification standards for lead removal and structural integrity. 3. Testing of a POU installation to simulate a real-world scenario. Expected Outcomes: Operating parameters required for lead removal under different water usage scenarios and a method to track device lifetime to predict filter replacement.