NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-2 H3.02-9111
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Bioregenerative Technologies for Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Rapid Activation of Biological Wastewater Treatment Systems

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pancopia, Inc.
1100 Exploration Way, Suite 302Q
Hampton, VA 23666 - 6264
(757) 344-8607

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
William Cumbie
1100 Exploration Way, Suite 302Q
Hampton, VA 23666 - 6264
(757) 344-8607

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
William Cumbie
1100 Exploration Way, Suite 302Q
Hampton, VA 23666 - 6264
(757) 344-8607

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Bioregenerative Technologies for Life Support is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Pancopia proposes development of a system with the capability to remove high levels of organic carbon and nitrogen from wastewater, capable of preservation for a year, and which can be used to reliably start up a biological wastewater system in 15 days. Phase 2 target criteria are 1) development of an inoculum capable of removing 95% of organic carbon, and 95% conversion of ammonium (75% removed as nitrogen gas and remaining 25% converted to nitrite/nitrate) when treating ersatz EPB wastewater with a startup time of less than 15 days; 2) development of a reactor that can effectively treat EPB wastewater; and 3) development of an operations manual providing process guidelines. PROBLEM/OPPORTUNITY: Properly configured biological wastewater systems can treat wastewater containing high organic carbon and nitrogen and produce a high quality effluent using minimal consumables. However, such systems can be difficult to startup rapidly and reliably. Developing a reliable inoculum to permit rapid startup of biological wastewater systems that treat high levels of organics and nitrogen would make such treatment viable. PLAN/PROCESS OUTLINE: Pancopia proposes to 1) To optimize lyophilization and reactivation of the inoculum developed in Phase I; 2) to develop a reactor system that permits accelerated startup; and 3) to operate the wastewater system for an extended period of time and develop an operations manual. BENEFITS: 1) Significant improvements in startup time and reliability for a system that can treat wastewater high in nitrogen, and 2) reduced costs due to optimization of bioreactor design and treatment optimization.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary NASA application for the proposed treatment system is the capability of rapidly and reliably starting up a biological wastewater system. This innovative treatment system will ultimately be capable of shortening the start up time of a wastewater treatment system to 15 days while enabling the to plant to remove high levels of organic carbon and nitrogen. It may be possible to use the inoculum to remotely start a wastewater treatment system, thus permitting the system to be operational at the time of occupancy of the station. A secondary application of the inoculum is for use as a backup in the event of failure of the wastewater system. This capability would be useful in cases of toxic shock, equipment failure, operator error, etc. Another application of the inoculum is its use as a standardized base to ensure reliable, uniform treatment. Use of a standard inoculum would lessen variability during treatment and simplify process control. A standard inoculum would permit different researchers to better compare research results. It would also simplify testing potential new wastewater constituents to determine how they may affect treatment

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Currently the wastewater treatment industry is being revolutionized by a new type of treatment that can remove nitrogen from wastewater at less than half the present cost. The combination of simultaneous nitrification/denitrification (SND) coupled with deammonification has moved out of the research phase and is being implemented in plants throughout the world with the Blue Plains WWTP in Washington, DC being one of the early adopters. Although this technology is starting to be used, it is still in its infancy with less than 50 full-scale installations worldwide. Unfortunately, one of the primary organisms, anammox, necessary for this type of treatment has an extremely slow growth rate and it can take up to a year to start up a plant unless it receives seed from another plant. Even with seeding, plants generally take 50 days or more to start. Developing an inoculum to rapidly and reliably start up a mixed SND/deammonification system has great commercial possibilities. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is an excellent example of the possible economic potential of this new technology. The Bay's watershed has 539 treatment plants that are under or are coming under mandate to remove nitrogen. The estimated cost for nitrogen removal in 2002 was $8.2 billion for these plants. Development of a process to rapidly and reliably start up mixed SND/deammonification plants has the potential to be extremely profitable and be the source of significant environmental improvement.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)

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