2017 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
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, 2016 through October 31,2017
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

During the reporting period, fieldwork took place in two locations: the Rich Earth Institute (REI) in Vermont, and at Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) in Virginia. Laboratory-based experiments at the University of Michigan and University of Buffalo tested how fertilizer production approaches impacted pharmaceutical and biological contaminants in the final applied product. Field trials examined the fate of pharmaceutical and biological contaminants in both lettuce and carrot crops over two growth seasons. Lysimeters were installed to assess the impact that urine-based fertilizer application had on nutrient runoff levels.

The results of the pilot-scale struvite tests demonstrate that source-separated and stored urine can reliably achieve high-quality and marketable struvite. The laboratory results compare how treatment approaches for source-separated and stored urine impact the prevalence of trace organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals) and biological contaminants (viruses and antibiotic resistance genes). The field studies demonstrated that source-separated urine fertilizers can effectively be applied for crop (lettuce and carrot) production and that runoff from the plots contained low levels of pharmaceuticals and nutrients. Data from this project will be useful in future risk assessments to predict the risks associated with urine reuse.

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

This 3-year research project is designed to 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. The development of 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.

During the third year, additional progress was made across different scales ranging from lab-scale to pilot-scale to full-scale. At Columbia University, three lab-scale biofilm based nitritation-anammox systems have been operating. Of these two are operated under mainstream influent nitrogen concentrations (TIN ~ 40 mg-N/L) and one is operated under sidestream conditions (TIN = 750 mg-N/L and operating temperature of 37°C). Of the two mainstream systems, one is operated at 21°C, whereas the second is operated at 15°C and is in turn connected to the sidestream system. All three systems are subjected to intensive monitoring in terms of system performance and microbial ecology.

The impact of organic carbon on the performance, kinetics and microbial ecology of the ambient temperature mainstream anammox process was investigated. In addition, a detailed study on the enrichment and kinetic and molecular characterization of Nitrospira spp. from the activated sludge process at Blue Plains was conducted. Using the knowledge from this study, efforts towards outselecting Nitrospira spp. from mainstream deammonification processes could be significantly improved.

In the field, we have continued our collaborations with additional partnerships were developed with VCS Denmark and Alexandra Renew, both of which are embarking on mainstream deammonification efforts. This is in addition to the collaboration with DC Water and HRSD. 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 HRSD, in addition to nitrogen conversion, significant efforts were directed at carbon re-direction and effective management. During this period, Dr. Maureen Kinyua performed research on carbon speciation and its impact on carbon capture. At DC Water, piloting mainstream deammonification with bioaugmentation is just being initiated. This process configuration will first be piloted at the A/B pilot process with the objective of establishing and optimizing mainstream deammonification. The main challenges will be NOB outselection and anammox retention.

Dr. Haydee de Clippeleir transitioned from a post-doctoral position at Columbia University (while based at DC Water), to a full-time position at DC Water. Additionally, Dr. Maureen Kinyua who joined the project team during summer 2015 (based at Norfolk, VA), finished her stint at HRSD in August 2016. She was replaced by Dr. Ankit Pathak, who has been working on anaerobic fermentation.

3. Manure Nutrient and Resource Recovery

• Submitted Draft Report to WERF on July 6, 2017: Manure Resource Recovery; Codigestion with Fats, Oil, and Grease
• Submitted Final Report to WERF on September 29, 2017: Manure Resource Recovery; Codigestion with Fats, Oil, and Grease
• Showed that codigestion of manure waste with Fats, Oil, and Grease (FOG) could greatly improve manure digestion economics with biomethane production increase by a factor of 4.4 under proper acclimation procedures to develop the Syntrophomonas bacteria abundance.
• Found that allowable digester loading potential with FOG can be determined by using qPCR to determine the abundance of Syntrophomonas bacteria.
• Showed that pulse feeding FOG to manure digestion every 2 days instead of multiple daily feedings within a day resulted in a different microbial population.
• Showed that the microbial population developed with pulsed-feeding had greater FOG degradation kinetics, higher resistance to toxicity, and was more diversified.
• Produced 4 refereed publications.
• Gave 3 conference presentations, and produced 3 proceedings papers.
• Evaluated a sequence of commercial-scale and lab scale technologies to achieve fine solids separation and ammonia stripping after anaerobic digestion indicated an achievement of 74% TAN removal after 5 hours of hydraulic retention time in a batch pilot-scale ammonia stripping system, while the continuous pilot-scale system provided 55% TAN removal with 5-hour hydraulic retention time.
• Modified the existing Nutrient Tracking Tool (NTT) program for the cropping systems, weather, soil, and land management conditions of Yakima region of Washington State. NTT was used to simulate the application of treated dairy manure, obtained from different stages of the anaerobic digestion and nutrient recovery system, to acreage for corn silage. Results show that progressive levels of dairy manure treatment with anaerobic digestion and nutrient recoverysystems show the corresponding improvement in the quality of water moving on the surface and percolating below the surface. However, when the treated dairy manure was applied to cropland, supplemental commercial fertilizer application was needed to achieve the optimum crop yields.
• Produced 1 peer-reviewed video, 1 peer reviewed extension publication, 1 field day, and 5 webinars.

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

Our design for a unit-process stormwater treatment train included an iron-enhanced filtration system for dissolved phosphorus removal, an upflow denitrifying bioreactor, and geomedia enhanced bioinfiltration system for trace organic contaminant removal. We designed, developed, and tested pilot-scale stormwater filtration systems in the field using stormwater collected in the local watershed and fed that into test columns that were carefully monitored.

The research team determined the key variables governing denitrification in woodchip reactors, and developed a robust model to predict denitrification performance. They also measured and modeled denitrification in woodchip reactors at different conditions to inform design. Different materials (woodchips, straw, biochar and manganese oxide) were tested in the field to evaluate which combination produces the best long-term results for the removal of trace organics and nutrients. This led to the team understanding the main mechanisms involved in the contaminant removal.

The pilot-scale research informed the design, operation, and optimization of a full-scale stormwater treatment system. The results include a rich data set that examines the efficacy, conditioning requirements, and materials and operation for denitrifying bioreactors and geomedia for trace organic pollutant removal. Additional laboratory experiments were conducted to evaluate mechanistic models used to describe nitrate removal in woodchip reactors to determine the important processes involved in woodchip denitrification.

The success of the project was judged by the ability to quantify pollutant removal, e.g., nutrients and trace organic compounds, in the pilot-scale filtration systems. Our goal was to produce sufficient performance data to determine the efficacy of a three-stage stormwater treatment system for passive treatment of urban stormwater. The results of the woodchip bioreactor indicated that under field conditions, woodchips could continually remove nitrate from the system. The levels of nitrate in all columns with a source of carbon (straw, woodchips, or woodchips plus biochar) dropped to non-detected levels after the first month of tests. The Minnesota Filter design with iron filings, however, was able to effectively remove influent phosphate only during the first two months of operation. After 3.5 months, the phosphate-adsorption capacity of the iron filings was negligible. A largefraction of the previously adsorbed phosphate remobilized after the fourth month. The system failed due to natural stormwater constituents (e.g., suspended sediment, etc.) or exceeding the adsorption capacity of the adsorbent, which was oxidized iron-enhanced sand.

A key finding from the study was the successful field demonstration of a novel treatment system for nutrient removal that includes woodchips to biologically degrade nitrate and biochar to remove trace organics. As demonstrated in the challenge test experiments, the results highlight an overall attenuation of the studied trace organic compounds by the columns containing woodchips and biochar. The absence of the organic contaminants in the biochar-amended column effluents could either be a result of physicochemical processes (i.e., adsorption onto biochar) or biodegradation in the column. In all studied woodchip column systems, biochar at 12% by volume (33% by weight) proved to be most effective for the contaminant removal. Organic compound breakthrough (contaminant removal <90%) was observed for the woodchip and straw columns that did not contain biochar.

Even at lower concentrations of biochar at 1% by weight, the columns were effective in removing the trace organic contaminants. The results of the candidate materials for a vertical unit process system (i.e., columns containing manganese oxide geomedia in combination with biochar) showed the importance of the addition of biochar in these treatment systems. In contrast, the manganese oxide (layered or mixed) lost reactivity after the aging period and its contribution to degradation was unimportant.

Laboratory experiments in the study focused on mechanistically modeling the processes involved in woodchip denitrification. This work indicated that woodchip reactors could be modeled with zero-order kinetics, confirmed using a robust data set collectedfrom experimental columns. The study advanced understanding of the underlying mechanisms of denitrification in woodchip reactors, while at the same time providing justification for the use of a simple zero-order model to describe performance. These findings can help practitioners and utilities to better design and maintain their stormwater passive infiltration systems.

Future Activities:

1.Nutrient Recovery Through Urine Separation

At the end of the reporting period all project work had been completed and the final report was in production. The final WERF report for the project is the only activity for the next reporting period.

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

• During the final phase of this project, we expect to wrap up the laboratory-scale and field-scale studies and commence report preparation
• Zheqin Li also will conclude his doctoral studies on this project at Columbia University during Spring 2018.

3. Manure Nutrient and Resource Recovery

• None – Final report was submitted September 29, 2017 (University of Washington).
• Finalize final project report (Washington State University).

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

• None, project complete.


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:

    Phosphorus recovery, struvite, source separated urine, urine sterilization, fertilizer, field demonstration, nutrient runoff sustainable BNR, engineered N-cycle, linking N- and C- cycles

    Relevant Websites:

    Research Center for Nutrient Management

     

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • Final Report