2016 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 , Chandran, Kartik , Luthy, Richard G. , 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
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: November 1, 2015 through October 31,2016
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:

1. Nutrient Recovery Through Urine Separation

There are four 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.

2. Development and Implementation of a Process Technology Toolbox for Sustainable Biological Nitrogen Removal Using Mainstream Deammonification

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.

3. Manure Nutrient and Resource Recovery

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, 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.

4. Enhanced Removal of Nutrients From Urban Runoff With Novel Unit-Process Capture, Treatment, and Recharge Systems 

Investigate 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, augmenting drinking water supplies in ways that can control nutrient releases to surface waters.

Progress Summary:

1. Nutrient Recovery Through Urine Separation

Throughout the last year, team members have begun to present project results through a number of outlets. Oral presentations were given at the Water Environment Foundation Technical Exhibition and Conference in 2015, the International Water Association (IWA) Resource Recovery Conference in 2015, the American Chemical Society in 2015, and the IWA Microbial Ecology and Water Engineering Conference in 2016. Our manuscript on the bacterial community in urine was recently accepted in Environmental Science & Technology. In each case, we have acknowledged the Water Environment Research Foundaiton (WERF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

2. Development and Implementation of a Process Technology Toolbox for Sustainable Biological Nitrogen Removal Using Mainstream Deammonification

During the project reporting period, additional progress was made across different scales ranging from lab scale to pilot scale to full scale. At Columbia University, two lab-scale biofilm-based nitritation-anammox systems, one operated at room temperature (~ 21°C), were subjected to intensive monitoring in terms of system performance and microbial ecology. The impact of two field-relevant conditions, variability in influent flowrates and composition, reflecting wet-weather events and influx of organic carbon (potentially bleeding out of the A-stage) were tested, once again in terms of system performance, kinetics and microbial ecology. In the field, the discovery of a rarely studied anammox organism led to the sequence of an enriched population containing this organism. Further, during the second year, additional partnerships were developed with VCS Denmark and Alexandria Renew; both these progressive water resource recovery facilities 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. 

At Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), in addition to nitrogen conversion, significant efforts were directed at carbon redirection and effective management. Research was conducted to quantify the effect of varying solids retention time (SRT) in the A-stage, hydraulic retention time (HRT) and DO concentrations on (1) extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) production and subsequently effluent quality, carbon capture (bioflocculation) and carbon redirection (settling), and (2) intracellular storage production and subsequently methane yield in a high-rate activated sludge A-stage system treating domestic wastewater. Two pilot-scale A-stage reactors were set up with HRTs of 30 (0.28 day SRT) and 60 (0.56 day SRT) minutes. Cascade DO control was used to maintain three DO set points of 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 mg/L. A MLSS concentration of 3,000 mg/L was maintained and the waste activated sludge (WAS) flow was varied to control the SRT at < 1 day. Results from this study can provide a supporting framework on the relationship between operating parameters and EPS production and intracellular storage products and how these variables affect carbon capture (bioflocculation), carbon redirection (settling), methane yield potential and effluent quality. A second direction of research at HRSD entailed determining the effect of operating parameters in a high-rate activated sludge A-stage system on carbonaceous storage compounds production. Finally, efforts were also directed comparing two process control strategies (ABAC and AVN) for energy-efficient nitrogen conversion (shortcut N-removal). This work also was conducted at HRSD.

3. Manure Nutrient and Resource Recovery

  • A second round of data collection was carried out for ammonia stripping. While this delayed progress on Thrust Area 2, Task 1, data are currently in the initial stages of analysis.
  • Comparison of results with Denver Metro Wastewater (a sub-task of Thrust Area 2, Task 1) is no longer possible, as the facility has decided to use the anammox process instead for nitrogen removal. This does not recover ammonia but is a much more proven process now than when they considered their ammonia stripping idea.
  • Webinar series on anaerobic digestion systems (Thrust Area 2, Task 2) in collaboration with WERF and ABC, from February through April 2016. The live webinars were viewed by 341 people, with most reporting moderate knowledge gain as a result of the webinars. An additional 867 people have watched the recordings of the webinars.
  • Field day on nutrient recovery and anaerobic digestion on dairies at Edaleen Dairy (Lynden, Washington) on June 9, 2016 (Thrust Area 2, Task 2). A total of 84 people attended. Among the 33 evaluations that were turned in, 66 percent learned a lot about nutrient recovery, while an additional 30 percent learned a little. Meanwhile, 53 percent gained a lot of knowledge in anaerobic digestion systems, while an additional 36 percent gained a little knowledge. Based on experiences and knowledge gained at the field day 18 percent said they planned to make behavior changes and an additional 45 percent indicated that they were considering behavior changes. These changes include expanding potential collaborators, supporting AD and NR efforts, changing their investment behavior within the dairy industry and incorporating these technologies into their digester facility.
  • A formal extension fact sheet on nutrient recovery technologies was submitted to the Washington State University (WSU) Extension system in August and is in review (Thrust Area 2, Task 2).
  • Began planning for the nutrient recovery video, with filming planned for the early spring (to coincide with nutrient applications to crop fields) (Thrust Area 2, Task 2).
  • Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) team has begun initial work on the modeling and is collaborating with the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) and with Washington Resource Conservation and Development Council for local information needs (Thrust Area 3).

4. Enhanced Removal of Nutrients From Urban Runoff With Novel Unit-Process Capture, Treatment, and Recharge Systems

During the reporting period the CTR system was 100 percent assembled, and water from Fryer Creek in Sonoma County, California was used to condition the columns. Water quality samples, which measured levels of nutrients in the columns, were tested every 2 weeks.

Nutrient Removal

Continued testing nutrient removal from the treatment system. The Minnesota filter, which consists of the iron fillings with sand to remove phosphate, effectively removed influent phosphate only during the first 2 months of operation, after which it was ineffective. In contrast to the Minnesota filter performance, the pretreatment woodchip bioreactor is consistently removing nitrate after 6 months of work. The pretreatment system shows a nitrate removal average of 94 percent. For other treatment columns, the biochar/woodchip mixture had the highest removal of nitrate compared to the straw/woodchip mixture and woodchips alone. The levels of nitrate in all columns (straw, woodchips, biochar) dropped to nondetect levels after the first month of tests. However, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) was seen to be highest in the straw/woodchip mixture columns with an average of 43 mg/L DOC compared to 3.3 mg/L DOC in the influent. The biochar/woodchip mixture columns, in comparison, had an average DOC of 6.4 mg/L DOC and the woodchip-only columns had an average DOC of 20.7 mg/L. The amount of DOC in the columns can have an impact on the organic contaminant adsorption capacity.

Microbial Community

In addition to the nutrient removal tests, the team is working with a research group from the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology at the University of Oklahoma to understand the taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional structures of the microbial communities in samples. The objective of the biofilm characterization study is to reveal the differences of microbial communities among the length of the different aged geomedia columns and link the microbial community structures with their functioning (i.e., denitrification and organics biodegradation). We will explore the mechanisms of community assembly, stability and dynamics under disturbance and stress. Samples of the microorganisms will be taken from the influent and effluent before, during and after tests regarding contaminant removal. We will also take biofilm samples inside the filters at the end of the study if warranted.

Challenge Tests

The ReNUWIt team set up the challenge test that will use synthetic stormwater in the 100 gallon tanks and will spike it with 50 μg L–1 of fipronil, diuron, benzotriazole, mercaptobenzothriazole, phenanthrene, 2,4-D, TCEP and BPA, as well as various metals (copper, manganese, iron, lead, zinc, nickel). Representative stormwater contaminants were selected based on their different physicochemical properties (e.g., Kow values spanning four orders of magnitude) and reactivity towards the studied geomedia (data from preliminary studies and literature). Since we want to analyze how each individual part of the system will perform during our challenge tests, each column, as well as the Minnesota filter and woodchip bioreactor, will be spiked with equal levels of TrOCs.

Future Activities:

1. Nutrient Recovery Through Urine Separation

Future plans include preparing the final WERF report for the project and publishing the remaining manuscripts related to the research that was conducted.

2. Development and Implementation of a Process Technology Toolbox for Sustainable Biological Nitrogen Removal Using Mainstream Deammonification

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, 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.

3. Manure Nutrient and Resource Recovery

  • Carry out analysis for mass balances and techno-economic analysis and write up the report.
  • Carry out interviews and produce an AD movie.
  • Carry out modeling effort using the Nutrient Tracking Tool.
  • Submit a paper to Water Research for publication consideration by November 2016: Long chain fatty acid feeding pattern in anaerobic codigester affects syntrophic community structure and bioconversion kinetics.
  • Obtain additional information on the metagenomics of the syntrophic population.
  • Evaluate the use of a model software program from Dynamatics for use in developing digester feeding strategies.

4. Enhanced Removal of Nutrients From Urban Runoff With Novel Unit-Process Capture, Treatment, and Recharge Systems

Further research on the relationship between the microbial community in the columns and the removal of organic contaminants needs to be demonstrated in the coming year.

Another planned research activity is to run contaminant concentrations at 50 μg L–1 for the challenge tests through the columns and test for breakthrough of trace organics and metals in the system. Initial testing of the influent will be done. The researchers will take samples three times a week for the initial 3 weeks to analyze contaminant breakthrough. After the challenge test, the research group will continue to collect stormwater from Fryer Creek every 4-6 weeks and will keep the test system fully operational for the next rainy season. Additional data samples will continue to be collected from the pretreatment and treatment system to analyze its nutrient removal lifetime.

Continue to send water and media samples to the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology at the University of Oklahoma to understand the taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional structures of the microbial communities in our samples. This will give us a better understanding of the mechanisms behind the removal of contaminants in our system.

The researchers also will 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. We look forward to continuing the field experiments and collecting results from the geomedia columns.

Additional field tests are being set up in Los Angeles, California. The work is supported by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Bureau of Sanitation and the County Flood Control District. This fieldwork builds on studies supported by the WRF. The Los Angeles study allows assessment of contaminant removal from runoff in a heavily urbanized neighborhood.


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)
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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)
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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)
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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:

    Ammonia recovery, anaerobic digestion, bioreactor, co-digestion of FOG and food waste, contaminant removal runoff, economic viability, energy recovery, engineered N-cycle, fertilizer, field demonstration, geomedia, linking N- and C- cycles, manure, microbial communities, nutrient runoff, phosphorus recovery, source separated urine, stormwater capture/treatment/recharge (CTR) systems, struvite, sustainable BNR, sustainable nutrient management, urine sterilization

    Relevant Websites:

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    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • Final Report