BlueInGreen, an Arkansas-based company that provides systems for dissolved gas treatment of water systems, recently announced a two-year, $750,000 grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to study the cost-effective removal of pharmaceutical residuals from wastewater using a new hyper-ozonation technology.
“Without a doubt, the widespread media attention and heightened public awareness surrounding the presence of pharmaceuticals throughout the environment has sparked growing concerns nationwide,” said Charlotte Smith, president of PharmEcology, a company that provides environmental consultation to the healthcare industry. “This study is an important first step in removing pharmaceuticals generated by human activity at the most concentrated point of generation. Widespread implementation of such a system would ensure that both humans and aquatic species have access to water that is free of pharmaceuticals and other chemical contaminants.”
Using a patented and patents-pending hyper-ozonation process, BlueInGreen will use a hyperconcentrated dissolved ozone (HyDOZ) unit for large-scale removal of both microbes and chemical components from wastewater. The company will target antibiotic residuals, estrogen-like compounds and industrial chemicals for treatment. In addition, some bacteria found in untreated wastewater may transmit genetic resistance to medically important antibiotics and the HyDOZ can be used to remove these bacteria. The HyDOZ has a three-pronged approach to improving water quality: destruction of microbes, removal of chemical residuals and breakdown of vectors of antibiotic resistance.
This study will examine the use of hyper-ozonation to replace traditional disinfection technologies in use at wastewater treatment facilities. The use of chlorine-based compounds for the treatment of water and wastewater is a common practice. However, according to a 2008 Associated Press report entitled “Drugs Found in Drinking Water,” the use of chlorine can make some pharmaceuticals more toxic.
“One of the key advantages of the use of ozone is that it breaks down to oxygen during treatment and actually improves water quality,” said Scott Osborn, PhD, chief technology officer for BlueInGreen. “Our HyDOZ technology is a more effective decontamination method and better for the environment.”
According to Osborn, BlueInGreen’s dissolved gas water treatment technology is the most cost-efficient delivery method in the market today. Full-scale demonstrations have shown an 80% reduction in oxygen and power costs as compared to conventional methods. These greatly reduced capital and operating costs will make the HyDOZ a practical treatment option for wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities. Many of the other technologies that are able to remove drug residuals from the water supply, such as reverse osmosis, are simply too costly to be implemented at the scale required for municipal facilities.
One-third of the grant has been earmarked for the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture for extensive laboratory testing and measurement. Because of its close proximity to BlueInGreen in Northwest Arkansas, the city of Springdale has partnered with the company to demonstrate the technology.