Pancopia as a company focuses mainly on Research and Development. Most of our research centers on environmental and energy engineering, with a current emphasis on wastewater treatment. Our hard-working team is committed to creating new and innovative ways to lower the negative effects of energy use, become more energy efficient and even energy positive, lower pollution levels, and more.

Current Research

Although Pancopia has many areas of interest, the current focus is on the development of nitrogen/ammonia reduction and removal in wastewater. Through NASA, Pancopia has developed and commercialized a novel biological nitrogen removal system for use on the International Space Station, as well as collaborative research on a second-stage effluent system. This focus also carries into Pancopia’s work with the USDA on ammonia emissions-capping systems for swine lagoons. Pancopia plans to continue these research contracts, as well as delve further into new applications for nitrogen capping and removal.

Rapid Reactivation

Pancopia’s first and most extensive contract to date is on Rapid Reactivation of Lyophilized (or freeze-dried) Organisms for NASA’s use in water recycling in space. As water is very heavy to lift into space, yet necessary to have, NASA began investing in water recycling methods. Through Phase I, II, II-X, and III SBIR Contracts over the course of several years, Pancopia developed ways to lyophilize a novel consortium of organisms that would be able to be stored, be able to rapidly reactivate when needed in under 14 days, and be able to effectively remove 95% of nitrogen from the space station’s wastewater for effective reuse.

Two-Stage Bioreactor

Similar to Pancopia’s Rapid Reactivation work, this contract series titled “Second Stage Biological Processor” is also focused on removing nitrogen from NASA’s wastewater stream to allow for efficient and robust water recycling. In addition to contract consultants from USDA Agricultural Research Service and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), Pancopia is also partnering with Texas Tech University to combine Pancopia’s and TTU’s units to provide the best biological nitrogen removal options for NASA. Following a successful Phase I SBIR, Pancopia has begun a Phase II that will go through fall of 2021.

Research Funding

In order to do our research and create new and innovative systems, we have to have the money to do so. Although most of our funding is revenue from our contracts, we have also received research grants from outside sources.

  • Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) Matching Grant. The CIT is a technological business initiative program run by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The grant was given to supplement our research in biological wastewater treatment systems that significantly decrease nutrient runoff pollution. Pancopia received one of only 48 awards given.
  • NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). The SBIR program at NASA is designed to fulfill NASA needs through small businesses, forming a partnership that benefits both parties. Pancopia received this contract to help NASA develop an effective, reliable wastewater treatment system to be used in space exploration.
  • USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at the USDA’s SBIR program is designed to fund high-risk, high-reward research that can improve agricultural practices and the communities that depend on them. Pancopia received this contract to develop an odor-capping system for swine lagoons that can significantly reduce ammonia emissions and the negative health affects they have on communities that surround them.