Study the Beneficial Effects of FFC Technology on Water

Anecdotal evidence suggests that water treated with the Akatsuka Group’s ferrous-ferric chloride (FFC) technology has numerous advantages over untreated water. We propose to characterize the changes that occur during treatment of water with FFC that may impart these benefits. We will test for changes in both total contaminant concentration and decreased contaminant “activity”, as well as changes in general water quality indicators, including pH, alkalinity, and dissolved oxygen.

General Experimental Design

We will explore several mechanisms by which FFC may remove, tranform, or inactivate contaminants, including: 1) sorption, or “sticking”, of contaminants to FFC ceramic and their removal from water; 2) transformation of contaminants to more benign compounds by chemically reacting with the FFC material; and 3) alteration of the chemistry in the immediate molecular-level vicinity of a contaminant, neither removing nor transforming the contaminant, but instead changing its activity (by this we mean making the contaminant unable to be taken up by an organism or unable to exert toxic effects within an organism). Based on the limited information we have thus far about FFC technology, it is conceivable that all three of these mechanisms could be operating simultaneously for different types of contaminants.

In general, we will conduct experiments in which contaminant concentrations and activities in water are tested before and after treatment with FFC. In initial experiments, we will use ultrapure water and spike it with known amounts of specific contaminants. Spiked water will then be split into two batches; one batch will be treated with FFC, and the second batch will receive no further treatment and will serve as the control. After treatment, both batches will be subsampled and relevant measurements performed. We will then compare contaminant total concentration or contaminant activity between FFC-treated water and control water (as well as other water quality indicators). After these preliminary studies, we will test water from a variety of sources, including drinking water (e.g., treated muncipal water, untreated groundwater) and natural surface water sources (e.g., lakes, rivers, stormwater runoff, treated wastewater). Great care will be taken to ensure that there is no cross-contamination between FFC-treated and untreated water, glassware and plasticware, and other supplies used during the experiments.

We propose to test the effects of FFC on a wide range of contaminants, including: toxic metals (copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, nickel) and metalloids (arsenic, chromium, selenium); well-characterized organic compounds of concern (e.g, PAHs, herbicides and pesticides, PCBs, TCE) as well as emerging organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals and personal care products); nutrients (phosphate, nitrate, ammonium) that cause eutrophication (overstimulation) of freshwater and coastal ecosystems; and other emerging contaminants of concern, such as perchlorate. In addition, we can test whether FFC treatment alters chlorine (Cl2) concentration or activity. Chlorine is often used to disinfectant water, but at elevated levels it can be toxic to a variety of organisms, including fish and plants. Chlorination of drinking water is also known to create toxic, carcinogenic disinfection by-products (DBPs). We will therefore test the ability of FFC to remove, transform or inactivate DBPs.