This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop bio-retention soils for the remediation of storm water runoff and common pollutants using engineered glass materials. Storm water runoff is a major component of non-point source pollution. The presence of excessive nutrients, metals, hydrocarbons, herbicides, and pharmaceuticals in surface, ground and drinking water is of particular concern due to their persistence and toxicity. Controlling runoff pollutants will be accomplished using engineered glass (Osorb)-metal composites mixed into bio-retention systems. Osorb physically absorbs a wide variety of volatile organic pollutants from water. Osorb will chemically remediate pollutants with embedded particles of catalytic metals. Breakdown byproducts of pollutants can be biologically mineralized in bio-retention systems or consumed as foods by the biotic community. It is expected that Osorb-metal composites amended soils will have significantly improved removal efficiency of multiple runoff pollutants without compromising hydraulic performance of the systems. The broader/commercial impacts of this research include: Substantial reduction of local toxic runoffs, protection from flooding and property damage by improving plant health and water-retainment of soils, improvement of aquatic and human health, and facilitation of sustainable water reuse. It is estimated by US EPA, runoff pollutants result in a multitude of economic losses in the US annually including; $30 million + annual direct losses for fishing industries, $2 billion + annual losses for beach tourism due to toxic closures and $17 million+ extra treatment costs in drinking water treatment plants. The state and federal governments are mandating local storm water programs to control storm water pollution and the cost of storm water runoff treatment is expected to significantly increase with a stricter regulatory climate. Developing cost-effective and effective storm water best management practice (BMP) would substantially reduce negative effects of runoff pollutants on human and aquatic health. The City of Seattle recently released a 2010 study which estimated the economic impact of uncontrolled storm-water runoffs at $113M. These costs combined the demonstrated losses to wildlife, human access to water resources, added costs of water treatment and 3 documented additional costs in human health care. The City of Cleveland and the local area watersheds have released a preliminary report reaching similar per-capita costs of pollutants in runoff waters.
ABSMaterials, Inc. successfully developed innovative rain gardens during the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I. The Osorb Rain Gardens remove and break down multiple pollutants from stormwater by integrating a novel absorbent nano glass material, Fe-Osorb® (Iron-Osorb). Fe-Osorb scavanges the pollutants from the water, and reduces and/or breaks them down with reactive metals embedded within the glass. Osorb® is a patented silica-based material that physically absorbs a wide variety of organic pollutants from water. For this SBIR Phase I research new versions of Osorb-metal composites have been initially tested at the lab-scale and small field-scale to measure remediation of runoff pollutants in Osorb Rain Gardens engineered to collect and filter stormwater runoff. These tests have produced consistently excellent and commercially viable results, in some cases reducing pollutants by over 90%. Osorb-metal hybrids used were highly effective at removing multiple runoff pollutants including nutrients (i.e. nitrate and phosphate), herbicides (i.e. atrazine), and pharmaceuticals (i.e. ethinylestradiol and triclosan). One of the key factors to successful remediation of runoff pollutants in bioretention systems is maintaining consistent hydraulic and pollutant removal performance in the long-term due to the excessive runoff volume and pollutant loads over time. Results obtained from column and field-scale experiments demonstrated Osorb-metal enhanced bioretention systems effectively remove runoff pollutants without compromising hydraulic performance. Ongoing effectiveness of Osorb-metal composites in bioretention systems is currently being evaluated. The first year of testing indicates the material remains effective in the long-term. Future work will focus on formulations of Osorb-metal composites to maximize longevity of remediation capacity over time. The broader impacts of this project include: (1) substantial reduction of environmental pollution in contaminated stormwater from human impacted locations, (2) protection from flooding and property damaged, and combined sewer system overflows, by reducing runoff volume, while improving plant health and water-retainment of soils, (3) improvement of aquatic and human health, and (4) facilitation of sustainable water reuse. Demonstrating more efficient pollutant removal capacity by the Osorb-metal composites enhanced bioretention systems, compared to standard bioretention systems, is expected to stimulate the implementation of bioretention systems as an effective stormwater best management practice. The company ABSMaterials is actively engaged with several large campus locations, and several stormwater districts and will be fielding a number of pilot Osorb rain gardens with clients extremely excited to address longstanding challenges.