Newsletter Banner
December 2016
Welcome to the R&D issue of the P2I Bulletin. R&D Program focuses on applied research - research that will lead to near-term solutions to keep New York State companies competitive in the marketplace while reducing their environmental footprint. To date, NYSP2I has funded 35 R&D projects, totaling nearly $2 million. 

R&D projects are conducted at NYSP2I's four partner universities: Rochester Institute of Technology, Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the State University at Buffalo. Researchers at these universities are eligible to apply and receive R&D grant funding each year to promote the development and ultimate implementation of innovative technologies or processes that can reduce environmental impacts and overall costs in New York State. In this issue, we announce the winners of our 2016 Grand Challenge, recap 2015 R&D Projects, and summarize projects from previous years. Thank you for your continued interest in our R&D work! 

- Dr. Charles Ruffing, Director, NYSP2I

Grand Challenge Winners
Ammonia Removal During Food Waste Anaerobic Digestion to Increase Energy Generation and Recover Reactive Nitrogen
Principal Investigator: Stefan J. Grimberg, PhD; Clarkson University

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is steadily gaining popularity as an effective means to manage food waste by creating useable biogas energy and value-added fertilizer material from the liquid digestate.  While the nitrogen in the digestate adds value as fertilizer, nitrogen in the form of ammonia inhibits growth of biogas-producing bacteria. Current practices to reduce ammonia toxicity and enhance methane production include blending high nitrogen and high energy waste with low strength waste, biological conversion of total ammonia nitrogen to nitrogen gas, struvite precipitation or ammonia stripping. These approaches require more digester capacity and may reduce the fertilizer value of the digester effluent. The proposed research will focus on utilization of a cationic ion-exchange membrane to selectively recover ammonium and eliminate the need for additional aggressive treatment steps. The recovered ammonia can then be re-blended with the liquid digestate to produce high quality fertilizer while methane production efficiencies are maximized. Research work will be in conjunction with Bioferm Energy Systems, O'Brien and Gere, Baron Loguidice and DANC to develop an even more cost-effective AD system to manage food waste.
Degradable Bioplastic Packaging for Sustainable Food Systems
Principal  Investigator: Carlos A. Diaz, PhD; Rochester Institute of Technology

As part of recent initiatives to divert waste food from landfills, a major barrier to minimizing landfill burden is the significant amount of co-mingled waste packaging and food that are difficult to separate.  If the plastics used for food packaging and containment can biodegrade at rates similar to food, a great opportunity exists to utilize anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce biogas energy and successfully divert more waste from landfills. Commercially available bioplastics do degrade but at much slower rates than food waste. The proposed work will focus on the development of more readily biodegradable plastics that are suitable for both aerobic and anaerobic digestion when combined with food scraps, while still meeting performance and cost requirements. Commercially available resins will be used to design a prototype and biodegradation tests will be performed. Successful development will lead to opportunities for reduced landfill burden, new product commercialization, increased utilization of AD for renewable energy utilization, and job creation in New York State.
Innovative Applications of Peracetic Acid for Wastewater Recycling
Principal  Investigator: Ning Dai, PhD; University at Buffalo

Reuse of water helps to conserve resources and reduce environmental impacts, making wastewater recycling critical for the sustainable development of the New York State (NYS) economy. Its implementation is, however, impeded by high treatment costs and concerns about the quality of recycled wastewater, especially regarding pathogens and trace organic contaminants.  The proposed project will focus on the development of peracetic acid (PAA) - based disinfection and oxidation technologies as a "greener" alternative to traditional chlorine and UV/hydrogen peroxide oxidation systems which pose risks to the environment and humans.  The byproducts of PAA are relatively harmless chemicals (oxygen and acetic acid [vinegar]); the recyclability of wastewater is enhanced and the overall environmental impact associated with wastewater treatment and disposal would be significantly reduced.  Successful development of PAA-based systems will also reduce treatment costs for the numerous wastewater treatment facilities located in New York, the U.S., and around the world.
Year 3 R&D Funded Projects
Secondary Applications for Transportation Batteries
Principal Investigator: Nenad Nenadic, PhD; Rochester Institute of Technology

Transportation battery systems which are considered "large" battery systems have considerable expenses associated with battery disposal even though the batteries have considerable potential for continued use at the end of their useful primary life. There are promising markets for secondary applications of these systems in grid-related applications, such as microgrids and affordable battery-based peak power demand reduction systems (peak shaving systems) for small businesses. The proposed study will investigate the potential for reusing the transportation cells in secondary, grid-related applications. The feasibility of battery reuse which involves economic and environmental considerations will be explored.
Technology Validation for Collection and Inactivation of Toxic Waste from CMP Processes
Principal Investigator: E. Silvana Andreescu, PhD; Clarkson University

The proposed research seeks to develop and validate technology to prevent and reduce toxicity of waste resulting from chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) of wafer materials in the semiconducting industry, one of the largest industrial sectors in the state of New York. The polishing process generates large amounts of waste including highly toxic arsine and phosphine gases, oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide, corrosion inhibiting agents and solid particles like silica, ceria and alumina. Development of environmentally friendly CMP processes and the efficient treatment and recycling of waste materials are key pollution prevention priorities for semiconducting companies.
Scalable Size Seperation Technology to Enhance Recovery of Metals from Electronic Wastes
Principal Investigator: Callie Babbit, PhD; Rochester Institute of Technology

The research work builds on past NYSP2I-funded work to develop a bench-scale prototype of a continuous, scalable size-separation system capable of processing typical electronic wastes, including printed circuit boards (PCBs) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. This prototype will be validated based on its ability to concentrate high value and high environmental impact metals in specific size fraction and the subsequent ability to extract those metals with high selectivity using low cost metal recovery technologies, such as magnetic separation and acid leaching.  The ultimate goal of this project is to bring the recycling improvements closer to commercialization, where they can improve the efficiency and economic viability of NYS e-waste processors. Supporting a lithium-ion battery recycling industry in the state has multiple benefits which include creating jobs, minimizing costs to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) responsible for taking back regulated products, and creating a domestic supply of metals feeding back into the electronics and battery manufacturing industries in the state, which currently rely almost exclusively on import of raw materials.
Engineered Yersiniabactin Biosynthesis for Industrial Wastewater Metal Retrieval
Principal Investigator: Blaine Pfeifer, PhD; University at Buffalo

Wastewater discharge from metal finishing companies have traditionally posed both economic and environmental concerns due to the presence of heavy metals. Traditional approaches to recover the metal are typically not cost-effective so trace amounts of heavy metals (within discharge compliance limits) are sent out to municipal wastewater treatment facilities and never recovered. Based on a method already developed that involves a heterologous biosynthetic process for producing a siderophore termed yersiniabactin (Ybt), the proposed work will expand this research focus to enhance this process for use in a production setting, namely at a local plating facility. If successful, the company will be able to recover the metals for reuse while further mitigating environmental releases. The potential impact for the metal finishing industry, a major manufacturing sector in New York, is significant.

Past R&D Projects

Innovative Capacity Assessment and Reuse Methodology for Used Lithium-Ion Cells
Principal Investigator: 
Nenad Nenadic  

This process has the potential to provide a rigorous used cell characterization and sorting protocol for determination of individual used cell feasibility in a variety of secondary applications. Read More

Smart Lifeline Systems for Improving Water and Energy Efficiency
Principal Investigator:
Salvatore Salamone

This technology has the potential to 1) reduce costs associated with water distribution system leakage inspection and 2) reduce risk of infection due to poor water quality. Read More

Anti-Corrosive Graphene Nanocomposite Coatings
Principal Investigator:
Sarbajit Banerjee

This technology has the potential to be a scalable solution for replacement of a carcinogen/environmental toxin widely used as a corrosion inhibitor. Read More
Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Pathways for Utilization of Waste Food Materials in New York State
Principal Investigator:
Jacqueline H. Ebner

This study identifies alternative treatments for food materials at every stage of the farm-to-fork spectrum. Read More
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn   View on Instagram   View our videos on YouTube