WBI receives DARPA STTR Award for biofiltration of Volatile Organics in Air


jwFebruary 22, 2017, Wilmington, MA – Dr. John Warner, President and CTO of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry (WBI), announces WBI’s receipt of a Phase I STTR award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)* for a program entitled Multiplexed Biofiltration of Volatile Organic Compounds.  The program will be performed in collaboration with Dr. Marc Deshusses, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University.

The EPA targets Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) from liquids and solids as a major health threat, especially in enclosed indoor environments. Short-term exposure to VOCs can result in eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, fatigue, loss of coordination, allergic skin reactions, nausea, and memory impairment.  In critical occupations, e.g. pilots and submariners, this can result in cognitive dysfunction. Prolonged exposure to VOCs can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

In keeping with its mission of a greener world, WBI has teamed with Duke to develop a novel, modular and scalable approach to remove VOCs from indoor air. This approach combines cutting-edge microfilter fabrication technology being developed at WBI with biofiltration reactor technology being developed by Duke to create a cassette-based, highly scalable solution for effective management of air pollutants in closed environments, such as human space vehicles.

John Warner is the recipient of the 2014 Perkin Medal, widely acknowledged as the highest honor in American Industrial Chemistry. In 2016 he was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. He received his BS in Chemistry from UMass Boston, and his PhD in Chemistry from Princeton University. After working at the Polaroid Corporation for nearly a decade, he served as tenured full professor at UMass Boston (Chemistry) and UMass Lowell (Plastics Engineering).  In 2007 he founded WBI and Beyond Benign, a non-profit dedicated to sustainability and green chemistry education. He is one of the founders of the field of Green Chemistry, co-authoring the defining text Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice with Paul Anastas. He has published over 250 patents, papers and books. Warner received the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring (considered one of the highest awards for US science education) and the Council of Science Society President’s 2008 Leadership Award. Warner was named by ICIS as one of the most influential people impacting the global chemical industries. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and named one of “25 Visionaries Changing the World” by Utne Reader.

mdMarc Deshusses is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University. His research interests are related to the design, analysis and application of remediation, waste to energy and decentralized sanitation processes. His current research focuses on novel reactors and processes for air, water and solid wastes treatment. Applications include treatment of odors and air toxins, biogas production, and novel sanitation and treatment technologies.


For more information contact David E. Wolf, PhD, Vice President of Technology Development gov@warnerbabcock.com

*Not an endorsement by DARPA

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