AUBURN – A water-purification technology developed at Auburn University has been granted United States Environmental Protection Agency registration. This technology, when used in appropriately designed drinking water devices, could save lives in remote areas or during natural disasters.
Professor Dave Worley, of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, developed the technology that Seattle-based HaloSource Inc. is commercializing as “HaloPure Br.” The company, which pays royalties to Auburn through a technology transfer agreement, markets the technology in a disinfecting cartridge to drinking water device manufacturers around the world.
“The EPA registration not only will benefit U.S. citizens, but also will help provide safe, clean drinking water to consumers in many other countries,” said Worley. “Once the U.S. EPA grants registration to a new technology, many other countries will adopt the view that it is safe and proven.”
HaloSource, established in 1998 on the potential of Worley’s discoveries, has already reached regulatory approval in India, China and Brazil, where the technology has been marketed since 2007.
“This technology has the potential for saving lives when there are no inexpensive means available for disinfecting drinking water,” said Jeff Williams, HaloSource senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Devices using this technology do not require piped water or electricity as HaloPure kills bacteria and viruses on contact.”
Potential end users include municipalities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Homeland Security and the military, as well as hikers, backpackers and campers, he added.
Worley, an Auburn faculty member for 35 years, won the university’s Creative Research and Scholarship Award in 2006 for his development of the technology. He received 30 patents in the course of discovering the disinfection process that works by binding bromine atoms to the surface of polystyrene beads.
“The technology involves attaching biocidal bromine onto porous beads for use in inexpensive disinfecting cartridges that can be incorporated into water purification and filtration devices,” he said. “Bacteria and viruses are killed on contact at the point-of-use. Chlorine also can be used, but bromine is more effective at killing germs.”
To activate the cartridges, brominated water is passed through them to anchor the bromine atoms to the beads. When untreated water contaminated with bacteria, mold or virus cells passes through the HaloPure cartridge, the cells pick up the bromine atoms which sink into the cells and kill them. The cartridges also can be engineered to ensure the safety of stored water, as well as for control of biofilm and slime formation downstream of the cartridge.
An example of current use is in India, where cities quickly outgrow the capacity of municipal water systems, so water is primarily provided by street vendors, who pull 1,000-gallon tanks behind tractors and then pump water to roof-top tanks. The water is purified when it flows through “HaloPure Br” filters.
Auburn’s license with HaloSource is one of the university’s 54 active license agreements based on technologies developed by faculty and students and managed by the university’s Office of Technology Transfer.
“With a new business plan, we expect to accelerate our technology transfer activities, such as with HaloSource, by initiating proactive approaches in working with faculty and student inventors, and marketing the university’s technologies,” said John Weete, acting assistant vice president for technology transfer and commercialization.
More information about HaloSource is available at its Web site, http://halosource.com.
(Written by Charles Martin.)