Rapid Fluorescent Assays for Coliforms and BOD in Shipboard Wastewater

Period of Performance: 05/12/2008 - 03/12/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Principal Investigator


One challenge encountered during long-term travel aboard marine vessels in coastal waters is the treatment, storage, and discharge of wastewater. To minimize discharging harmful waste into the environment, all marine vessels with toilets must have a marine sanitation device (MSD) to process wastewater, rendering it harmless. The two key indicators of the quality of treated wastewater are fecal bacteria (measured as fecal coliform content, or FCC) and organic material (measured as biological oxygen demand, BOD). However, the standard methods for measuring these are laborious and require one and five days, respectively. In order to monitor the performance of MSDs and minimize storage of treated waste, more expeditious FCC and BOD assays are needed. During the proposed Phase I, Luna will identify and develop rapid fluorescent bioassays for accurately predicting and measuring these key indicators in MSD effluent. The assays will be based on the use of fluorescent markers for measuring bacterial metabolism of, i) fecal bacteria for determination of FCC and ii) bacterial seed consortia for determination of BOD. In preparation for Phase II, during the Phase I Option Luna will begin formatting select assays into kits for simple use with a hand held fluorometer onboard marine vessels.