An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Novel Rhamnolipid Surfactants For (recovery of Critical Elements And) Remediation of Metal Contaminated Waste Streams

Boxley, Chett J
Glycosurf, LLC
Start date
End date
Project Summary & AbstractIndustrial processes produce difficult to treat wastewater containing environmental contaminants in the form ofdissolved metals, many of which pose a potential health hazard to plants, animals, and humans. Examplesinclude mining industry effluents, wastewater treatment effluents and landfill leachates. In many cases, thesewaste streams cannot be treated cost effectively. Consequently, massive quantities of wastewater arequarantined for expensive treatment and subsequent discharge, disposed of underground, or discharged intoour surface water supply leading to a significant impact on environmental and human health. Remediation ofthese waste streams is traditionally accomplished through a variety of technologies ranging from chemicalprecipitation to membrane filtration. The technology used is highly dependent on the effluent type, and eachtechnology has intrinsic advantages and drawbacks. While chemical precipitation is simple and capitalinvestments are inexpensive, it is inefficient process at low metal concentrations, non-selective, and generateslarge amounts of sludge which requires subsequent treatment. On the other hand, membrane filtrationtechnologies have high metal removal efficiencies and generate minimal waste, but they are extremelyexpensive to operate, have high operational complexity, and suffer from membrane fouling. This Phase I SBIRwill combine a proprietary process to manufacture green bioinspired metal-selective sugar-based surfactantswith ion flotation technology for efficient and cost-effective removal of toxic metals and rare earth elements(REE) from wastewater solutions. This new technology will create a saleable product of metals of strategicimportance to the US and facilitate water reuse through removal of toxic metals from waste streams.Preliminary data using simple solutions, has demonstrated that biosynthetic rhamnolipids are highly effective atcapturing both rare earths and heavy metals, even in the presence of common soil cations such as sodium,potassium, and calcium. During the Phase I effort, GlycoSurf and its University of Arizona partner, will work on3 specific Aims: 1) model and real-world effluent characterization, 2) characterize metal removal from modeland real-world solutions via ion flotation, and 3) evaluation of performance and scale-up cost estimation.Successful completion of the specific aims will facilitate the pathway to commercialization of the noveltechnology to protect water supplies (and ultimately human and environmental health), while simultaneouslycreating a novel pathway for the production of saleable REE.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Environmental Health Sciences
Project source
View this project
Project number
Accession number
Natural Toxins