PI: Sabrina Jedlicka

Co-PI(s): Susan Perry

University: Lehigh University

Industry partner: EcoTech Marine

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led many families to expand their range of home hobbies to accommodate the various states of lockdown experienced across the world. Aquarium systems have been part of this trend, with a significant number of new reef-keepers entering the market. The demand for largely hands-off, autonomous systems will grow as these same hobbyists return to the office setting in the future. One device in particular, which is also used in a wide variety of other industries, enables hobbyists to maintain pristine water conditions with limited user input. Foam fractionation is a technique by which hydrophobic and amphipathic molecules, often found in waste, are separated from water via adsorption onto fine bubbles. This technique, while simplistic at first glance, requires precise conditions for proper efficiency. Even in large-scale settings, such as wastewater treatment - tuning such units requires experience and patience. Thus, in collaboration with EcoTech Marine, we aim to develop a calibration unit for foam fractionation units designed for home aquatic systems. These units will rely on conductivity measurement, which is supported by significant prior theoretical analysis. The team will develop, test, and model the device in-house, before designing the components for future manufacturing strategies. The long-term goal will be to develop not only the device but a body of science that couples the theoretical analysis of foam fractionation with the practical measurement of foam density.