Department of Mathematics

MBI International

Pollution Remediation Project *

MBI International is a business entrepreneurial center whose mission is to develop and commercialize biobased technologies. The company works with individuals, industry, and government to develop and commercialize biobased technology --- ones that are environmentally friendly and safe. Moreover, MBI's emphasis is on near-term opportunities, those which can move through technology and business development in five years or less.

One of MBI's current projects is to commercialize a novel three-phase pollutant extraction process (patent pending) which is based on the unique properties of a proprietary surfactant system. The surfactant system is non-toxic, biodegradable, and has the, seemingly incompatible, properties of high detergency and low emulsion carrying capacity.

The process consists of first mixing polluted soil, surfactant, water, and sacrificial oil; and then separating the solid (clean soil) and liquid phases. Oily materials are relatively quickly rejected from the liquid phase, yielding a clear interface of oil and water. The surfactant system remains with the water phase while pollutants are concentrated in the oil phase. In a single-contact, three-phase extraction performed in the laboratory as just described, the removal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) is about 96%. Clearly, this process has a high potential to generate positive economic impact within the pollution remediation industry. The objective of this project is to predict the field-scale performance of soil washing equipment based on the laboratory equilibrium phase distribution data for PCB's and site specific soils.

An ideal completed project deliverable would be an equipment specific treatment model coupled with a cost optimization model (implemented as an Excel spread sheet for example). MBI is working with surfactant and equipment manufacturers, a soil washing company, and a federal agency who will use these models to commercialize this process for pollution remediation.

The manager for this project will be John A. Courtney of the Department of Mathematics.

* This summary prepared by R. E. Svetic with the assistance of Dr. B. F. Severin, Director of Environmental Technology, MBI International, Lansing, MI, www.mbi.org.