2015 Progress Report: Water Environment and Reuse Foundation (WE&RF)'s National Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management

EPA Grant Number: RD835567
Center: Water Environment and Reuse Foundation's National Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management
Center Director: Pramanik, Amit
Title: Water Environment and Reuse Foundation (WE&RF)'s National Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management
Investigators: Pramanik, Amit , Case, Traci L. , Chandran, Kartik , Sedlak, David L. , Stensel, David , Wigginton, Krista , Yorgey, Georgine
Current Investigators: Pramanik, Amit , Chandran, Kartik , Khunjar, Wendell , Luthy, Richard G. , Radke, Christine , Sedlak, David L. , Skerlos, Steven J. , Stack, William , Stensel, David , Wigginton, Krista , Yorgey, Georgine
Institution: Water Environment and Reuse Foundation , Columbia University in the City of New York , University of California - Berkeley , University of Michigan , University of Washington , Washington State University , Water Research Foundation
Current Institution: Water Environment and Reuse Foundation , Center for Watershed Protection , Columbia University in the City of New York , Hazen and Sawyer , University of California - Berkeley , University of Michigan , University of Washington , Washington State University , Water Research Foundation
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: November 1, 2013 through October 31, 2018
Project Period Covered by this Report: September 1, 2014 through August 31,2015
Project Amount: $3,370,298
RFA: Centers for Water Research on National Priorities Related to a Systems View of Nutrient Management (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water

Objective:

 

The 4 projects funded under this center are summarized below:

Project 1. Nutrient Recovery through Urine Separation

There are four major objectives to address practical and safety issues related to urine reuse:

  1. Provide design and permitting guidelines to address practical issues related to the implementation of urine separation and collection systems.
  2. Understand how urine pretreatments impact pharmaceutical and biological contaminant concentrations.
  3. Compare the efficacy of using natural urine and urine derived product as agricultural fertilizers.
  4. Evaluate the fate of nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and biological contaminants following urine product applications.

Project 2. Development and Implementation of a Process Technology Toolbox for Sustainable Biological Nitrogen Removal (BNR)

Mainstream deammonification offers a significantly more energy and cost-efficient alternative to conventional approaches for biological nitrogen removal (BNR). The overarching goal of this project is to develop a fundamental science and technology driven approach and a process toolbox to harness the potential offered by mainstream deammonification for sustainable nitrogen management. The specific objectives are as follows:

  1. Out-select nitrite oxidizing bacteria (NOB) growth to achieve aeration and savings through short-cut BNR (ScBNR) and deammonification
  2. Maximize energy recovery by redirecting carbon away from energy intensive processes to energy producing
  3. Optimize anaerobic ammonia oxidation (anammox) retention alternatives in order to independently control anammox solids residence times (SRTs) effectively
  4. Meet stringent permit limits with less or no supplemental carbon by autotrophic effluent polishing
  5. Develop and optimize strategies to overcome flocculant biomass settleability limitations associated with ScBNR and autotrophic nitrogen removal processes.

Project 3. Manure Resource Recovery

The objectives of this study are to demonstrate the performance and economic link between co-digestion and low-input (i.e., reduced pH and temperature) in anaerobic manure digestion, demonstrate ammonia stripping with nitrogen recovery, and the ability to reduce ammonia concentrations in, and emissions from, animal and municipal wastewater. Collected nitrogen will be stabilized as ammonia salts either as a single product or blended with bio-solids. Anaerobic digester performance will be offset by reducing capital/operating costs, and incorporating the operation within a total system approach (i.e., utilizing co-digestion for enhanced biogas as well as ammonia concentration), and producing more-valued bio-fertilizers.

Project 4. Enhanced Removal of Nutrients from Urban Runoff with Novel Unit-Process Capture, Treatment, and Recharge Systems

The project investigates the ability of geomedia mixtures to sequester or transform drinking water contaminants likely to be encountered during the recharge of the underlying aquifer with urban stormwater. The work will include an assessment of contaminant removal under field conditions. The fieldwork employs geomedia-containing test columns to demonstrate proof-of-concept studies of a novel approach to treatment with actual stormwater, while laboratory studies under controlled conditions provide mechanistic understanding of system parameters. The results will offer insight onto the potential for using geomedia for removing drinking contaminants from stormwater, issues affecting system performance, and approaches that can be used to extend the lifetime of the geomedia. The project also allows for better understanding of how to implement regional stormwater capture, treatment, and reuse to augment drinking water supplies in ways that can control nutrient releases to surface waters.

Progress Summary:

Project 1. Nutrient Recovery through Urine Separation

In the first year of this 2-year study, the project team developed the analytical methods necessary to test the urine, urine products, vegetable samples, soil samples, and lysimeter water samples. The first year also included a summer planting season at the Rich Earth Institute (REI), in which the optimum urine application and lysimeter management methods were determined. At Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), the first year included optimizing the urine collection system at their main office building in Norfolk, VA and installing and operating a struvite pilot plant. Year two has primarily involved a detailed sampling effort using the methods developed in year one. Crops were planted in Vermont by REI, but with the optimized methods. The plant material, soil, and lysimeter water samples are being analyzed by the research teams at UM and University at Buffalo (UB).

Project 2. Development and Implementation of a Process Technology Toolbox for Sustainable Biological

This three-year research project is designed include both lab and field studies. During the first year of this project, a lab-scale biofilm mainstream anammox reactor was successfully started up and operated with a concomitant enrichment of anammox bacteria therein. Developing this reactor allowed us to understand the factors that contribute to successful anammox activity and reactor performance at ambient temperature and mainstream nitrogen loading. Also during the first year, a modified analytical method to measure hydrazine concentrations was developed. Hydrazine is a unique intermediate of anammox metabolism and can be monitored as a specific chemical marker of anammox presence and activity. In parallel, field studies have been actively underway. The initial field studies were initiated by our original collaborators, DC Water and Hampton Roads Sanitation District. During the second year, additional partnerships were developed with VCS Denmark and Alexandra Renew, both of which are embarking on mainstream deammonification efforts. Microbial samples from all field-scale processes except DC Water (where the pilot-scale process is under construction) were shipped to the labs at Columbia University, where they were interrogated for the presence and concentrations of aerobic and anaerobic ammonia oxidizing bacteria and correlated with field-scale performance and activity measurements. For the samples from VCS, added correlations were made between the microbial ecology and granule size. Finally, during the second year, the influence of wet weather on the lab-scale mainstream anammox process was investigated.

Project 3. Manure Resource Recovery

Major accomplishments for this project include ongoing monitoring technology at three sites (Enumclaw, WA co-digestion facility, Chilton WI manure-only facility, and Fort Recovery Ohio poultry layer operation).  System mass balances, performance indicators, and techno-economic evaluation have also been produced including a  draft report on mass balances and performance indicators for technology at 3 sites. UW has completed all the reactor testinng tasks: Tasks R1-R3. WSU PI, Craig Frear, left the university to pursue other interests. He has been replaced by Georgine Yorgey, MPA. The following tasks in the project are also on or ahead of schedule: 

  • Data analysis of high-input air-towers and steam-strippers is actively underway and proceeding on schedule for the economics portion for the low input ammonia stripping.
  • WSU has begun active work on the extension portion of this project ahead of schedule. A formal extension factsheet on nutrient recovery technologies is in draft and additional paper submitted for publication.
  • WSU has started planning for a recorded webinar series in late winter/spring 2016, focusing on nutrient recovery from anerobic digestion. We are exploring the possibility of hosting these with the American Biogas Council (ABC). 
  • WSU has worked with industry on Yakima digester project that will incorporate AD, co- digestion, RNG, fiber separation, DAF fine solids/P recovery and nitrification/denitrification. This project will serve as host for the field day in last year as well as allowing comparison of ammonia and nitrification/denitrification systems.
  • UW has completed all the reactor testing tasks; Tasks R1-R3.

Project 4. Enhanced Removal of Nutrients from Urban Runoff with Novel Unit-Process Capture, Treatment, and Recharge Systems

Major accomplishments have been made throughout the year in the planning, design, and implementation of the field study. Throughout the duration of the reporting year (November 2014-October 2015), the ReNUWIt team members from three universities (Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Colorado School of Mines) met to discuss the project transition from the design phase into the field. The initial steps were to plan and design the pilot scale Capture Treatment Recharge (CTR) system for installation in the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) field test site. Tasks were assigned for sub-teams to research between meetings, action items were set, and minutes for each meeting were taken.

The proposed design for the experimental setup was a column-scale version of the conceptual design in the original project proposal. Stormwater is collected and pumped through an iron-sand filter to a stabilizing reservoir then split into two flow paths. One pathway is designed to determine different configurations of materials and operations to improve nitrate removal via woodchip bioreactors. The other experimental pathway focuses on different geomedia material and operational parameters for the removal of trace organic contaminants.

The ReNUWIt team initially built prototypes of the columns (Figure 1 & 2). A simple PVC column design was used for the denitrifying bioreactors; this has been tested in the laboratory. In addition, a PVC column with side ports was employed for the geomedia columns.


Figure 1:The prototype of the geomedia column (made of PVC material and shown in the laboratory filled with manganese oxide and biochar).


Figure 2:(a) Diagram of experimental setup. Columns are filled with woodchips and operated in up-flow mode. (b) The prototype of the denitrifying woodchip bioreactors shown in test mode in the laboratory. This system is used to obtain data to model oxygen depletion, dissolved organic carbon formation and nitrate reduction in woodchip beds.

Upon completing the design phase, the research team met with the lead engineer as well as technicians at the Sonoma County Water Agency that assisted with the column installation (Figure 3). The site visit was particularly helpful because it allowed us to see the building the SCWA is permitting us to use. Additionally, we visited several stormwater sources in the area that were candidates as collection sites.


Figure 3:Field site visit to Sonoma County Water Agency to meet staff and see space for experimental setup.

Following the initial site visit, the research team collected stormwater after a rainstorm to provide some initial characterization on the water quality to help us decide what source water would be best for our experiments (Figure 4). We narrowed down the sources following this sampling based on the levels of nitrate in the stormwater source.


Figure 4: Stormwater source that was collected in the watershed along Fryer Creek in the city of Sonoma. After exhibiting higher nitrate levels than other local sites, this source has been chosen as our desired water source for the experiments.

Decisions were finalized on what materials and their specifications were to be used for the column tests, and these were obtained for the experiments. One challenge that was encountered regarding this was that (due to administrative requirements and the fabrication exception from normal overhead rates), most of the setup materials needed to be ordered and approved at the beginning of the project. This meant that most the components were ordered in one purchase agreement.

After several design iterations, materials for  field test column experiments including flow-through apparatus and larger tanks were ordered. At this time, the experimental apparatus has been fabricated including  the generation of reactive geomedia and the geomedia test columns. We purchased a sample collection trailer, which is stored at the field test site. During the time between May and June of 2015, we conducted parallel laboratory studies on both woodchip denitrifying bioreactors and reactive geomedia for the removal of nutrient and trace organic contaminants, respectively.

Major field installation of the geomedia and bioreactor test columns, frames, tanks, and pumping system began in July 2015, after an initial site safety visit with the Water Agency staff. Due to the drought, we decided to obtain stormwater from Fryer Creek  because it is known to flow year round; this represents so-called ‘urban drool’ and can be a potentially important source of stormwater pollutants and resource for groundwater recharge. In addition, water from Fryer Creek had higher levels of nitrate compared to other locations, which made it an ideal site for testing stormwater. The pilot scale Capture Treatment Recharge (CTR) system was then assembled and included 36 columns (Figure 5).


Figure 5:Schematic of the field system column scale stormwater CTR system for nutrient and trace organic contaminant removal

Tap water was initially run through the system to ensure that all connections were sealed correctly and that the pump and switching systems operated as planned (i.e., leak and control testing). The push to get the system up into the field was a major effort and much was accomplished in this regard (Figures 6-8). For example, it took many person-hours to generate sufficient quantities of geomedia for the scale-up to a field pilot test sized columns.


Figure 6:ReNWUIt researchers design and fabricate test columns for installation in the field


Figure 7:ReNUWIt researchers during the construction phase on the pilot scale CTR system located at the Sonoma County Water Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Figure 8:ReNUWIt researchers at the Sonoma pilot CTR system weigh and mix geomedia (left, woodchips for the denitrifying bioreactors; right, mix of biochar and sand for trace organic contaminant removal).

Another major obstacle was obtaining stormwater for the experiment. The members of the Risk Management unit of the SCWA advised us that it would be necessary to inquire with the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to determine if a permit was required for collection of stormwater. Although the water collection would be small (approximately 500 gallons every 6 weeks), the CDFW determined that a permit application was required. We acquired both a permit from CDFW as well as from the City of Sonoma to make sure we have permission to collect the 500 gallons of stormwater every 6 weeks.

Finally, during the last few months we have made major progress in collecting stormwater from Fryer Creek after several days of rain in the Sonoma area. We are currently testing this water through our CTR system (Figure 9).


Figure 9:ReNUWIt researchers collecting stormwater from Fryer Creek in Sonoma

The team rented a U-Haul pickup truck and attached the sample collection trailer to the vehicle (Figure 10).


Figure 10:Trailer purchased by ReNUWIt to facilitate the collection of stormwater samples. The trailer contains a collection tank for transporting stormwater to the pilot system where it is transferred to the larger holding tank (black, behind trailer)

A 196cc gasoline-powered pump was used to collect the water from the creek. The water initially went through a 10-micron filter bag, then a 0.7 micron strainer before entering the pump intake hose. Two trips from the creek to the Sonoma County Water Agency wastewater treatment plant were made to transport the 500 gallons. The water in the tank was connected to two pumps that distributed the stormwater to the geomedia-containing columns (Fig. 11) that were used to demonstrate the ability of the  mixture to treat stormwater contaminats.


Figure 11:Photo of the columns for: geomedia (left, 24 columns) and woodchip bioreactors (right, 12 columns). Triplicate columns are used for each media configuration.

One current obstacle faced by the team is making sure the woodchip columns do not leak. Although leak tests have been done, there still continues to be some leakage with the columns, which contain woodchips. This was a result of some small wood chips blocking the exit ports. This has been remedied with smaller screens to prevent clogging. Also, daily visits to Sonoma from our researchers to overlook the system have been helpful in identifying and fixing these issues.

Future Activities:

Project 1. Nutrient Recovery through Urine Separation

The second growth season of the project is complete (10/2015) and analyses are underway for samples derived from that season. Specifically, the carrots sent by REI will be analyzed and the uptake will be compared with what is seen in lettuce. Additionally a second batch of lettuce was grown and that will also be analyzed. Future operations and research plans at HRSD include:

  • Replacing urine as feed solution in Pearl 0.5 to produce urine-derived struvite product.
  • Analysis of urine-derived struvite product to determine purity and presence of pharmaceuticals and pathogens.
  • Installation of a second urine-diverting toilet in main office.
  • Investigate and determine treatment method for the recovery of remaining ammonia in urine for use as a fertilizer.  

Project 2. Development and Implementation of a Process Technology Toolbox for Sustainable Biological

During the upcoming third year, the impact of organic carbon compounds on the performance, kinetics and microbial ecology of lab-scale mainstream anammox reactors will be determined. Collaborative field studies will continue with our partners, DC Water, Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), VCS Denmark and Alexandria Renew to understand the microbial structure and function of the field mainstream deammonification processes. Carbon diversion studies will be continued in the field by DC Water and HRSD.

Project 3. Manure Resource Recovery

Future activities include laying the groundwork to ensure that Ali Saleh, director of the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) and the developer of CEEOT, has the parameters he needs for modeling under WSU Task 2. WSU will also actively work to pass off the needed ammonia data and extension deliverables to Denver Metro and RCD. Furthermore,  methods for molecular biology evaluation of the reactor microbial populations, including high throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics are being developed. The team will start modeling using CEEOT (comprehensive economic and environmental optimization tool). W

Project 4.Enhanced Removal of Nutrients from Urban Runoff with Novel Unit-Process Capture, Treatment, and Recharge Systems

During the next year, the ReNUWIt team will continue to collect stormwater from the creek every 6 weeks and run the column experiments in the field. Initial testing of the influent will be done. The researchers will also make sure to assess for any leaks that may occasionally occur. One goal in doing so is to make daily visits to the test site to identify and ensure correct operation. Work on continuing the field experiments and collecting results from the geomedia columns will continue. Additionally, we are working with Geosyntec Consultants, one of our ReNUWIt Industrial partners for the sensing and control element of the experiment. The research group has spent significant effort investigating the optimum path forward in implementing sensing and control technologies into the field site setup including installing a webcam and alarms to monitor the columns to ensure the treatment system is continually powered. 


Journal Articles: 21 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other center views: All 86 publications 24 publications in selected types All 21 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Halaburka BJ, LeFevre GH, Luthy RG. Evaluation of mechanistic models for nitrate removal in woodchip bioreactors. Environmental Science & Technology 2017;51(9):5156-5164. RD835567 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Han M, Vlaeminck SE, Al-Omari A, Wett B, Bott C, Murthy S, De Clippeleir H. Uncoupling the solids retention times of flocs and granules in mainstream deammonification: a screen as effective out-selection tool for nitrite oxidizing bacteria. Bioresource Technology 2016;221:195-204. RD835567 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Han M, De Clippeleir H, Al-Omari A, Wett B, Vlaeminck SE, Bott C, Murthy S. Impact of carbon to nitrogen ratio and aeration regime on mainstream deammonification. Water Science and Technology 2016;74(2):375-384. RD835567 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Kinyua MN, Elliott M, Wett B, Murthy S, Chandran K, Bott CB. The role of extracellular polymeric substances on carbon capture in a high rate activated sludge A-stage system. Chemical Engineering Journal 2017;322:428-434. RD835567 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Kinyua MN, Miller MW, Wett B, Murthy S, Chandran K, Bott CB. Polyhydroxyalkanoates, triacylglycerides and glycogen in a high rate activated sludge A-stage system. Chemical Engineering Journal 2017;316:350-360. RD835567 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Klaus S, Baumler R, Rutherford B, Thesing G, Zhao H, Bott C. Startup of a partial nitritation-anammox MBBR and the iplementation of pH-based aeration control. Water Environment Research 2017;89(6):500-508. RD835567 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Ma J, Zhao QB, Laurens LL, Jarvis EE, Nagle NJ, Chen S, Frear CS. Mechanism, kinetics and microbiology of inhibition caused by long-chain fatty acids in anaerobic digestion of algal biomass. Biotechnology for Biofuels 2015;8:141 (12 pp.). RD835567 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Miller MW, Elliott M, DeArmond J, Kinyua M, Wett B, Murthy S, Bott CB. Controlling the COD removal of an A-stage pilot study with instrumentation and automatic process control. Water Science and Technology 2017;75(11-12):2669-2679. RD835567 (2017)
    RD835567 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Mullen RA, Wigginton KR, Noe-Hays A, Nace K, Love NG, Bott CB, Aga DS. Optimizing extraction and analysis of pharmaceuticals in human urine, struvite, food crops, soil, and lysimeter water by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Analytical Methods 2017;9(41):5952-5962. RD835567 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Park H, Brotto AC, van Loosdrecht MCM, Chandran K. Discovery and metagenomic analysis of an anammox bacterial enrichment related to Candidatus "Brocadia caroliniensis" in a full-scale glycerol-fed nitritation-denitritation separate centrate treatment process. Water Research 2017;111:265-273. RD835567 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Park MR, Park H, Chandran K. Molecular and kinetic characterization of planktonic Nitrospira spp. selectively enriched from activated sludge. Environmental Science & Technology 2017;51(5):2720-2728. RD835567 (2017)
    RD835567 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Regmi P, Holgate B, Miller MW, Park H, Chandran K, Wett B, Murthy S, Bott CB. Nitrogen polishing in a fully anoxic anammox MBBR treating mainstream nitritation-denitritation effluent. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 2016;113(3):635-642. RD835567 (2015)
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  • Journal Article Stewart HA, Al-Omari A, Bott C, De Clippeleir H, Su C, Takacs I, Wett B, Massoudieh A, Murthy S. Dual substrate limitation modeling and implications for mainstream deammonification. Water Research 2017;116:95-105. RD835567 (2017)
    RD835567 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Wett B, Podmirseg SM, Gómez-Brandón M, Hell M, Nyhuis G, Bott C, Murthy S. Expanding DEMON sidestream deammonification technology towards mainstream application. Water Environment Research 2015;87(12):2084-2089. RD835567 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Ziels RM, Karlsson A, Beck DA, Ejlertsson J, Yekta SS, Bjorn A, Stensel HD, Svensson BH. Microbial community adaptation influences long-chain fatty acid conversion during anaerobic codigestion of fats, oils, and grease with municipal sludge. Water Research 2016;103:372-382. RD835567 (2016)
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  • Journal Article Ziels RM, Beck DAC, Stensel HD. Long-chain fatty acid feeding frequency in anaerobic codigestion impacts syntrophic community structure and biokinetics. Water Research 2017;117:218-229. RD835567 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Ziels RM, Sousa DZ, Stensel HD, Beck DAC. DNA-SIP based genome-centric metagenomics identifies key long-chain fatty acid-degrading populations in anaerobic digesters with different feeding frequencies. The ISME Journal 2017;12(1):112-123. RD835567 (2017)
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  • Journal Article Ziels RM, Beck DAC, Marti M, Gough HL, Stensel HD, Svensson BH. Monitoring the dynamics of syntrophic β-oxidizing bacteria during anaerobic degradation of oleic acid. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 2015;91(4):5-28. RD835567 (2015)
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  • Journal Article Regmi P, Holgate B, Fredericks D, Miller MW, Wett B, Murthy S, Bott CB. Optimization of a mainstream nitritation-denitritation process and anammox polishing. Water Science & Technology 2015;72(4):632-642. RD835567 (2015)
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  • Journal Article Regmi P, Bunce R, Miller MW, Park H, Chandran K, Wett B, Murthy S, Bott CB. Ammonia-based intermittent aeration control optimized for efficient nitrogen removal. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 2015;112(10):2060-2067. RD835567 (2015)
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  • Journal Article Lahr RH, Goetsch HE, Haig SJ, Noe-Hays A, Love NG, Aga DS, Bott CB, Foxman B, Jimenez J, Luo T, Nace K, Ramadugu K, Wigginton KR. Urine bacterial community convergence through fertilizer production:storage, pasteurization, and struvite precipitation. Environmental Science & Technology 2016;50(21):11619-11626. RD835567 (Final)
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

    Phosphorus Recovery, struvite, source separated urine, urine sterilization, fertilizer, field demonstration, nutrient runoff, sustainable BNR, engineered N-cycle, linking N- and C- cycles, sustainable nutrient management, ammonia recovery, energy recovery, economic viability, anaerobic digestion, manure, co-digestion of FOG and food waste;

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • Final Report