Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF; Alexandria, Va.) has teamed with the Water Environment
Federation in a joint initiative to move innovation into practice in the water
quality sector. The Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT) is designed
to approach this challenge through four avenues.
Technology Evaluation Program provides a means for municipal and industrial
facility owners to evaluate and integrate new technologies and share the risk
and cost of conducting demonstrations.
People & Policy component informs policy at the federal, state, and local
level to remove barriers and facilitate adoption of new technologies. This
includes benchmarking of how utilities accomplish research and development
Communication component provides training, education, and outreach relative to
Informal Forum for R&D Managers allows individuals responsible for
technology identification and deployment to share experiences, activities, and interests.
LIFT provides an avenue for peer-to-peer networking, knowledge
sharing, and collaborative technology testing for innovative technologies.Through the LIFT Working Group,
which includes more than 200 WERF facility owners, the program has and
continues to identify technologies and topics of high priority around which to form
focus groups. So far, five high priority technology topics have been
is both an essential and limiting nutrient, but in excess it has proven
detrimental to water quality. Phosphorus recovery technologies are extremely
attractive methods for water resource recovery facilities to reduce effluent
For example, Clean Water Services (Hillsboro, Ore.) Durham
Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant currently is operating the first phosphorus
recovery facility in the U.S. Benefits to date include reduced phosphorus
loads, reduced chemicals necessary for supplemental phosphorus removal, and
reduced solids handling and disposal costs. This process has the potential to
produce a return on investment in as little as 5 years.
Shortcut nitrogen removal processes in embryonic
stages and those that are well-established promise to address increasingly
stringent regulations and rising energy and chemical costs associated with nutrient
removal. As a result, liquid sidestreams, which can account for up to 25% of
nitrogen loading, are the targets of new technologies aimed at addressing
nitrogen removal in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
include the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which
currently is operating the largest SHARON® nitrite-shunt process in
the world and is engaged in a pilot study in moving bed biofilm reactor-based
sidestream deammonification. And since October 2012, the Hampton Roads
Sanitation District (HRSD; Virginia Beach, Va.) has been operating DEMON®
sidestream deammonification at its York River facility and has an ANITA®
Mox sidestream deammonification in design at its James River plant. DC Water
(Washington, D.C.) also has fully implemented the single-reactor DEMON
sidestream deammonification process and is evaluating methods for anammox
retention within the sidestream process.
technologies can help enhance anaerobic digestion, thereby reducing biosolids
and increasing gas production. They also can help lower the costs of biological
nutrient removal by reducing the need for external supplemental carbon for
For example, HRSD, the Philadelphia Water Department, and
the Orange County (Cailf.) Sanitation District have been exploring pretreating
waste activated sludge with pulsed energy fields to achieve cell lysis. Thermal
hydrolysis achieves the same result by using heat and water to cleave the
chemical bonds of organic solids, reducing the hydraulic retention time in
downstream digesters, and lowering capital costs. HRSD and DC Water are very
engaged in better understanding this technology, as well as implementing and
refining the Cambi process.
energy from wastewater has enormous potential for water resource recovery
facilities striving for net-zero energy.
example, DuPont Co. (Wilmington, Del.) is looking into electrogenic
bioreactors, an innovative twist on microbial fuel cell technology, oxidizing
organic matter as it would be in conventional treatment while simultaneously
producing an electric current. On the West Coast, Delta Diablo Sanitation
District (DDSD; Antioch, Ca.) is engaged in a demonstration project to
determine the efficacy of hydrokinetic turbines at multiple facilities. During
the demonstration, DDSD will gather data, review design, install and maintain
the turbines, and develop operational procedures and drawings.
recovery from biosolids technologies comprises one of the most developed
opportunities for water resource recovery facilities to engage in energy
production practices,explained WERF Executive Director Glenn Reinhardt.
Expansions on the two established pathways for energy recovery, anaerobic
biodegradation and thermal conversion, are being examined at facilities
is leading the efforts of the Bay Area Biosolids to Energy Coalition (San Francisco),
a coalition of 18 San Francisco Bay area agencies seeking biosolids to energy
technologies. They are currently evaluating a process that converts biosolids
into biodiesel using the Fischer-Tropsch pyrolysis treatment to chemically
degrade organic material with heat, but in anoxic conditions.
Hybrid solar-microbial system autonomously uses
wastewater to produce energy
do you get when you combine solar energy with a microbial fuel cell (MFC)? A
hybrid device capable of using wastewater and sunlight to produce hydrogen gas,
according to research conducted by a team at the University of California,
The team, led by
Yat Li, associate professor of chemistry at the university, developed the
device and reported research in a paper published in the American Chemical
Society (ACS; Washington, D.C.) journal, ACS Nano. The device combines
an MFC with a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC).
In MFCs, electrogenic bacteria generate
electricity by transferring metabolically-generated electrons across their cell
membranes to an external electrode, the news release says. As bacteria degrade
the organic matter in wastewater, the MFC generates electricity. This
electricity is delivered to the PEC to assist solar-powered electrolysis that
generates hydrogen and oxygen, according to a university news release.
Separately, the PEC
and MFC both require a small additional voltage to produce hydrogen gas, adding
to the cost and complication of these devices, especially at a large scale. The
hybrid device runs entirely on the energy derived from organic matter and
sunlight. The self-sustained “bio-battery” provides extra voltage and energy to
the PEC to generate hydrogen gas, the news release says.
Initial tests of
the device used electrogenic bacteria grown in the lab on an artificial growth
medium. Subsequent tests used municipal wastewater from the Livermore (Calif.)
Water Reclamation Plant. The wastewater contained both organic nutrients and a
mix of microbes that feed on nutrients, including naturally occurring strains
of electrogenic bacteria, the news release says.
The team found that when fed with
wastewater and illuminated in a solar simulator, the device continually
produced hydrogen gas at an average rate of 0.05 m3/d while cleaning
the turbid wastewater. Soluble chemical oxygen demand in the water declined by
67% during a 48-hour period, the news release says.
noted a decline in hydrogen generation as organic matter in wastewater
declines. Replenishing wastewater in each feeding cycle led to complete
restoration of electric-current generation and hydrogen-gas production, the
news release says.
plan on scaling up the laboratory device to a 40-L prototype continuously fed
with municipal wastewater and plan to test the device onsite at the water
resource recovery facility.“The MFC
will be integrated with the existing pipelines of the plant for continuous
wastewater feeding, and the PEC will be set up outdoors to receive natural
solar illumination,” said Fang Qian, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
researcher and study coauthor.
Low nutrients limits result in increased costs and pollution with diminishing benefits
Current biosolids regulations prove more
than adequate to protect groundwater and human health, according to findings by
a study published in the November issue of Water Environment Research.
Researchers representing Utah State
University (Logan, Utah), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the
Water Environment Research Foundation (Alexandria, Va.), and the Utah Division
of Water Quality (Salt Lake City), set out to characterize potential human
health risks associated with exposure to biosolids pollutants. Using EPA
Multimedia, Multi-pathway, Multi-receptor Exposure, and Risk Assessment
technology, the team developed a computer-based biosolids groundwater risk
characterization screen tool (RCST), according to the report.
Using RCST at two biosolids
land-application sites in Virginia, the
researchers determined that pollutant concentrations as large as 10 times the
current regulatory limit could safely be applied to land with no apparent human
health effects associated with groundwater consumption, the report says.
Only “unrealistically high” biosolids
application rates and pollutant concentrations posed significant health risks
associated with groundwater impairment, the report says.
“The absence of a significant human
health risk predicted from biosolids land application modeling efforts as well
as no reported incidence of regulated biosolids pollutants negatively impacting
groundwater resources further supports maintaining current regulatory
requirements,” the report says.
The report, “Impact of Biosolids
Recycling on Groundwater Resources,” is available as an open-access document
and can be downloaded free at
Research allows open access to one article per issue on a range of important
technical topics such as nutrient removal, stormwater, and biosolids recycling.