BioLargo’s subsidiary tackles PFAS toxic chemicals head-on with new treatment technology

BioLargo Inc has said that its subsidiary BioLargo Engineering, Science & Technologies Inc (BLEST), confirmed the potential of a new water treatment technology to solve the global drinking water contamination problem with man-made “forever chemicals”.

The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as per and fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. According to media reports, some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems.

In a statement, the Westminster, California, company said that BLEST has finished its work under a Phase I SBIR grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create an effective, affordable solution to the global PFAS contamination crisis. The project was in collaboration with leading environmental scientists at the University of Tennessee.

It is now moving to the next phase of development in preparation for demonstration pilots and commercialisation, said the company.

In 2019, BLEST developed a working prototype of a device called the Aqueous Electrostatic Concentrator (AEC) that was proven effective at eliminating PFAS from water. In fact, the new technology eliminates more than 99% of the two most predominant PFAS compounds – perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – without the need for the high-pressure systems and high electricity costs of reverse osmosis, or the high cost carbon filters.

BLEST reported that based on its bench-scale testing, AEC was projected to use only $0.30 of electricity to treat 1,000 gallons of water, a fraction of the cost of what is necessary to operate competing technologies. Management believes that they will further reduce electricity costs for treating potable water.

The BLEST team has applied for additional funding from the EPA to accelerate its work under a Phase II SBIR grant. In the proposed project, the team will create a pilot unit to field test the technology in commercial and industrial settings at a small commercial scale. They are in the process of identifying a “partner community” that will act as the test site.

Delivering a low-cost, low-energy technology
“We believe we have made a strong case in our application to the EPA for additional financial support under the Phase II SBIR grant programme. Our team has decades of experience delivering engineering and science-based solutions,” said Randall Moore, who is the president of BLEST.

“Our goal is to deliver a low-cost, low-energy technology that will reduce the threat PFAS poses to people worldwide,” he added.

The Environmental Working Group which coined the term “forever chemicals” estimates that 110 million Americans may be contaminated with PFAS. Experts have linked PFAS to detrimental effects on health and the environment due to their tendency to persist in the environment and human body.

The two common and widespread PFAS compounds addressed by the BLEST study – PFOA and PFOS – are found in common household and industrial products. Both compounds have been found in water supplies across the country, and municipalities are struggling to find a feasible and affordable solution to remove PFAS from their drinking water.

Planning to field test AEC technology
BioLargo CEO Dennis P Calvert said the company’s AEC technology solution to the PFAS crisis is “directly in line” with the firm’s mission ‘to make life better’ when it comes to clean water, clean air, health.

“We have confidence in Randy, his team, and our group of scientists, and intend to support BLEST 100% as they move towards commercialising the AEC,” said Calvert.

“We plan to get the technology field tested and launched commercially as soon as possible. We have the ability to help communities all over the world who face this PFAS challenge,” he added.

BioLargo has developed several innovative and patented products targeted at three markets: water and wastewater treatment, industrial odour and volatile organic compounds (VOC) elimination, and advanced wound care.