Superfund Research Program
SRP-Funded Small Business Provides Cost-Effective Technology for Mercury Emissions
NIEHS Superfund Research Program small business grantee and Wyoming-based start-up Pollution Control Technologies (PCTech) has initiated field tests of its new X-FA system, a cost-effective tool to capture mercury emissions.
X-FA, which can pick up and retain mercury, is composed mainly of fly ash, a waste product at power plants that usually requires its own special management. Using an innovative method, PCTech deposits a thin coating of activator material around the recycled fly ash particles to create the X-FA sorbent that can chemically bind to mercury. The X-FA sorbent can be produced on-site and can capture large amounts of mercury relatively inexpensively. PCTech expects to commercialize X-FA in the near future, which could help utilities meet strict mercury emissions standards implemented to protect human health.
The team is testing X-FA at coal-fired power utilities, including the University of Wyoming Central Energy Plant and the Dakota Gasification Company. PCTech also has been working closely with Basin Electric to test X-FA technology.
SRP-Funded FACETS Program Prepares Undergraduates for Advanced Education
Thirteen undergraduate students recently participated in the eight-week Fostering Advancement and Careers through Enrichment Training in Science (FACETS) internship program at Harvard University. Funded in part through the Superfund Research Program (SRP) Occupational and Safety Training Education Program on Emerging Technologies at the Harvard School of Public Health, FACETS takes a holistic approach to cultivating the next generation of scientists.
Through the FACETS program, undergraduate students are exposed to a range of public health topics, including introductory coursework in epidemiology and biostatistics, lectures from diverse faculty at Harvard, and mentored research projects with faculty members in environmental health.
The dynamic FACETS summer internship program aims to increase the competitiveness of the participants in graduate school admissions. This year's FACETS cohort included three students from Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically black college in New Orleans.
SRP Small Business Featured at International Biotechnology Convention
A Superfund Research Program (SRP)-funded small business project led by David Battaglia, Ph.D., was selected to exhibit in the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Innovation Zone, a part of the BIO International Convention held June 19 - 22 in San Diego. The annual convention attracts about 15,000 biotech leaders from 65 countries, covering a wide spectrum of life science innovations.
The BIO Innovation Zone is an exhibit space dedicated to showcasing National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees. Battaglia represented Lynntech, Inc., an SRP-funded SBIR grantee.
Lynntech researchers have developed methods to increase the longevity and durability of commercially available membranes used for water purification. They use nanoparticles to modify the surface of these membranes and enhance their performance over time. These improvements minimize membrane fouling, which occurs when bacteria, clays, and other particles are deposited on the membrane surface.
Reducing membrane fouling can reduce the need for water system maintenance and required materials, leading to an overall reduction in system costs. Lynntech's modification process is also universally transferable to all existing membrane water purification technologies in commercial and industrial wastewater systems.
"NIH strongly believes in supporting innovative and breakthrough life science technology development through the SBIR program. The BIO International Convention continues to be an ideal place to highlight our companies," said Matthew Portnoy, Ph.D., the NIH SBIR program coordinator. "The SBIR companies showcased in this year's Innovation Zone show some of the most promising technologies in our portfolio that we hope will achieve commercial success and significantly advance and improve human health."