Effective Treatment of Groundwater Pollution Using a System Utilizing Controlled Release Polymer Materials
Award last edited on: 1/23/2019

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Charles Gause

Company Information

AxNano LLC

527 Bridge Street Suite 301
Danville, VA 24541
   (540) 230-3881

Research Institution

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Phase I

Contract Number: 1622866
Start Date: 7/1/2016    Completed: 6/30/2017
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is to develop a technology for remediating contaminated water. These new materials that called controlled release polymer structures (CRPS) are being developed for In Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO). ISCO is an advanced remediation technology that has proven efficacy in reducing groundwater pollution. There are currently 1,322 sites on the EPA's National Priorities List where hazardous contaminants have or are expected to be released into the environment. CRPS serves this large $60 billion market with a low-cost, flexible remediation material. This proprietary technology offsets growing water scarcity and aging infrastructure that leads to compromised water sources. Current ISCO methods require using hazardous liquid oxidizers that pose significant worker safety risk and are not effective in all environments. CRPS can be delivered as a solid designed to treat specific contaminated zones over the course of months to years. It is expected that CRPS can transform the remediation industry by: 1) ensuring worker safety, 2) reducing labor costs, 3) allowing sustained, long term treatment decreasing redeployment cost, 3) providing tunability to meet specific site characteristics or toxins, and 4) allowing ISCO to be a more attractive remediation approach due to increased ease of use. The technical objectives in this Phase I research project are to support scale-up manufacturing and efficacy testing in preparation for field-testing at a contaminated groundwater site. This program will develop and optimize material formulation including active ingredient loading, stability, and handling / transport for commercial use. Likewise, methods amendable to large-scale manufacturing will be investigated as well as performance testing in dynamic flow contaminated water studies. Work will investigate the ability of CRPS to be tuned for controlled release rates under multiple environmental simulations to determine contaminant degradation such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). MTBE is used as a fuel additive and is a common groundwater contaminant that results from leaking underground storage tanks. MTBE is particularly problematic due to its solubility and mobility in water as well as environmental persistence. Contaminant degradation by CRPS will be tested over a range of concentrations to yield dose response curves. Collectively, this Phase I program will result in a clear understanding of CRPS performance guiding future pilot scale field studies. Cost and deployment strategies of the CRPS compared to current ISCO remediation technologies will be evaluated in preparation for commercialization

Phase II

Contract Number: 1758621
Start Date: 3/1/2018    Completed: 2/29/2020
Phase II year
(last award dollars: 2019)
Phase II Amount

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will pilot field test controlled release polymers (CRPs) as an in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) remediation material. With a controlled time release of the oxidant payload, the CRPs technology treats contaminated water over longer periods eliminating the occurrence of contaminant rebound resulting in overall shorter cleanup time and total cost. ISCO is the fastest growing field among sub surface contaminant remediation technologies. Current commercial ISCO deployment methods utilize liquid oxidants as reagents which possess short term reactivity (days). To address contaminant rebounding, these injectable formulations require costly re-injections. This project would result in a novel product that is environmentally benign and achieves sustained release of oxidative agents over extended treatment periods (months to years) with a single application. CRPs are a novel technology, offering a highly tunable remediation amendment for the $1.4B Chemical Treatment Remediation Market. Ultimately, CRPs based treatments will decrease exposure to groundwater contaminants known to cause many human health disorders.The technical objectives in this Phase II research project will be to field test CRPs patented, controlled release polymer technology for in situ chemical oxidation of contaminated groundwater. To support field testing, a pilot scale manufacturing process for the initial minimum viable product established in Phase I will be developed. Manufacturability will be tested in terms of product quality and stability, throughput, and cost. CRPs formulations based on multiple oxidants, will be manufactured to address a broad range of environmental contaminants including chlorinated solvents, BTEX (benzene/toluene/ethylbenzene/xylene), PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether), and petroleum hydrocarbons. CRPs will be pilot tested at two field sites with impacted soil and groundwater. The rate and duration of oxidant delivery and contaminant degradation will be measured. In particular, pilot field testing will assess the ability of CRPs to eliminate rebounding. Field data and computation modeling will be used to create a remediation design tool to prescribe future CRP dosing deployment strategies. Collectively, this Phase II program will result in a clear understanding of in-field performance of the CRPs technology to guide future full scale deployment and market uptake.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.