Period of performance:
Water scarcity, both economic and physical, affects close to a third of the world population. Efficient, affordable and robust purification technologies are needed for a range of separation contexts, from point-of-source treatment or remote in-situ purification devices to large-scale, centralized wastewater treatment facilities. Chemical pollutants in ultra-dilute concentrations (micropollutants, e.g., organic endocrine disruptors, pesticides, household chemicals, dyes and heavy metal cations), which are classified by the EPA as contaminants of emerging concern, pose a particularly vexing problem in wastewater treatment, since current technologies suffer from high energetic penalties and performance limitations when confronted with pollutants at these very low concentrations (nM to μM), often in the presence of excess competing species. We have developed an electrochemically-assisted, chemically tunable, highly selective, and inexpensive platform technology that exploits nanostructured electrodes to selectively remove harmful contaminants at the nano- to micro-pollutant level, modulated solely by electrical potential. The current proposal addresses (i) extension of this platform to small-scale device implementation through the scaling and optimization of a flow-electrochemical process, and (ii) the robustness and optimization of the process parameters and the materials chemistry of the system for practical wastewater streams. We will construct a larger demonstration unit, and explore commercial application opportunities.