Final 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 , 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 , 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 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 overall objective of the WRF Center, through this Cooperative Agreement, was to provide innovative data, demonstrations, and tools to catalyze a paradigm shift in the water quality community; one where nutrients (nitrogen & phosphorus) are not regarded as wastes, but rather valuable resources and an integral part of a sustainable managed system that includes the nutrients, energy, and water. Research activities were led by university researchers and conducted by teams of subject matter experts at universities, wastewater utilities, non-profit community organizations and commercial animal facilities. By exploring the scientific aspects of nutrient recovery and removal along with community and stakeholder acceptance, this Center helped provide strategies for reducing nutrients in watersheds across the nation.

The WRF Center was part of EPA's National Priorities Research program administered through the EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program in 2013 to establish four (4) Centers nationwide to conduct water research and demonstration projects that are innovative and sustainable using a systems approach for nutrient management in the Nation's waters.

Nutrient Recovery through Urine Separation

This completed and published project focused on technical aspects of urine separation and urine-derived fertilizer production and application in the United States. The project team hypothesized that with proper treatment, source-separated urine could be a safe, effective, and sustainable source of nutrients for agriculture applications in the United States. The research approach included both field and laboratory-based experiments, including the incorporation of the first two North American full-scale demonstration projects on urine separation, along with pilot tests of struvite formation from urine.

There were 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.

Life Cycle Assessment of Urine Diversion Wastewater Treatment: Results and Software Tool

The nutrients in the food consumed by humans largely end up in the wastewater stream and can exert significant adverse environmental impacts (e.g., eutrophication) if not properly controlled. Consequently, the effluent standards for nutrient removal from wastewater are becoming more stringent in many places in the U.S., and many wastewater utilities are looking for methods to recover resources from wastewater. Urine diversion is a promising way to supplement the supply of fertilizers while reducing the environmental impact of treating wastewater by recovering nutrients as a resource. The environmental benefits and tradeoffs of urine diversion vary depending on many location-specific factors, and a flexible methodology is needed to assess urine diversion in a variety of locations. This completed and published project evaluated the environmental performance of urine diversion as a viable alternative to conventional wastewater treatment on a relatively large-scale basis and with subsequent synthetic fertilizer production from the collected urine.

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

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.

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.

Enhanced Removal of Nutrients and Trace Organics in Pilot-Scale Stormwater Treatment Systems

The objective was to provide guidance on the design and operation of systems for controlling nutrient and trace organic contaminant releases to surface waters from urban runoff. The work comprised replicate column studies in the field and the laboratory using various media in different combinations. The goal was to inform the design of cost-effective and sustainable urban stormwater management systems to control pollution and cleanse stormwater for use. This study supports the larger vision of development of a modular, unit-process stormwater capture, treatment, and recharge (CTR) systems that incorporate the latest developments in natural systems-based pollution control technologies. Stormwater treatment modules were tested with different media using urban runoff from a watershed in Sonoma, California.

Key research objectives:

  • Determining the key variables governing denitrification in woodchip reactors, and development of a robust model to predict denitrification performance.
  • Measuring and modeling denitrification in woodchip reactors at different conditions to inform design.
  • Testing different materials (woodchips, straw, biochar and manganese oxide) in the field to evaluate which combination produces the best long-term results for the removal of trace organics and nutrients.
  • Understanding the main mechanisms involved in the contaminant removal.

Tool for Evaluating Resource Recovery (TERRY) - Nutrient Recovery from Agriculture

One of the major deliverables from WERF's research project NTRY1R12 "Towards a Renewable Future: Assessing Resource Recovery as a Viable Treatment Alternative" was an excel-based decision tool called TERRY (Tool for Evaluating Resource Recovery). In its first iteration, TERRY focused on providing guidance to wastewater utilities considering the implementation of extractive nutrient recovery via struvite crystallization. This iteration of TERRY will build upon the work done for WERF research project NTRY1R12 but will focus on nutrient recovery from agriculture waste streams.In building TERRY, 20 utilities were surveyed, receiving operating data for pilot and full-scale testing. Theengineering feasibility, operating costs, and environmental and social impacts of extractive nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) recovery technologies available were evaluated. The Project Team will perform the similar steps in this iteration of TERRY. There also will be tutorials on how to use TERRY and analyze the results.

Finding and adding Agricultural BMP Performance Studies to the Agricultural BMP Database

The purpose of the Agricultural Best Management Practice Database (AgBMPDB) was to develop a centralized repository of agricultural BMP performance studies to provide scientifically-based information on practices that reduce pollutant loading from agricultural sites. The AgBMPDB includes performance data and metadata that document the many field-based and practice-based variables that affect BMP performance. The long-term goal of the AgBMPDB is to provide agricultural advisors, planners, consultants and producers with information that enables them to better select systems of BMPs for their operations and to support improvements in agricultural BMP design and implementation (WE&RF 2017). The AgBMPDB will also be useful for watershed assessments and planning efforts.

Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management,Capstone Summit

In 2013, U.S. EPA awarded The Water Research Foundation (WRF), formerly the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), a grant valued over $2.2 million to oversee the National Research Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management (Center).One of the major deliverables from the Center was a Capstone Summit. The objective of the Capstone Summit was to showcase the research findings to an audience of 50 people which included utility, engineering/design, regulatory, and non-profit representatives. Other partner organizations were invited to present on their nutrient related work. All participants were asked to help identify new research needs and gaps on effective nutrient management.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Nutrient Recovery through Urine Separation

The project was a combination of field and lab work. 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.

Life Cycle Assessment of Urine Diversion Wastewater Treatment: Results and Software Tool Investigators / Institutions of PI: Steven Skerlos, University of Michigan (UM)

A general model framework was developed that could be applied to a variety of municipalities. A user-friendly tool was developed that can compare the environmental impacts of urine diversion to conventional wastewater treatment in a variety of locations. The tool accounts for tradeoffs such as offsets of synthetic fertilizer, urine transportation and treatment, and models the changes in the wastewater facility due to the change in quantity and quality of influent wastewater. The model compares concentrated urine, struvite, and urine derived ammonium sulfate to synthetic fertilizers. This methodology is demonstrated in three urine diversion case studies: a municipality in Vermont, an average Michigan wastewater treatment facility, and a wastewater treatment facility in Virginia with strict effluent nutrient limits.

The tool was applied to three case studies: 1) A location in Vermont, 2) Widespread conversion in the State of Michigan, and 3) A location in Virginia complying with stringent Chesapeake Bay nutrient discharge standards. A comparative LCA was conducted in each instance of the operations of two urine diversion systems compared to conventional wastewater treatment and fertilizer production. One fertilizer production system consisted of pharmaceutical removal from urine using activated carbon, concentration using processes such as reverse osmosis and freeze thaw, followed by heat pasteurization of the urine. The other production system precipitates struvite from urine and then uses an ion exchange process to extract nitrogen from urine, which is used to make an ammonium sulfate fertilizer.

The case studies indicated that urine diversion decreased impacts in almost all categories compared to the conventional system, though the struvite and ion exchange scenario increased the acidification potential relative to the baseline system. The urine concentration scenario tended to have lower global warming potential and eutrophication potential than the struvite and ion exchange scenarios but tended to have similar cumulative energy demand and water consumption. Offsetting fertilizer was the largest benefit in all case studies.

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

This research project was designed include both lab and field studies. An anammox MBBR was successfully enriched under low nitrogenous substrate and ambient temperature. It needs to be addressed that, even with the limited fraction of Candidatus “Kuenenia stuttgartiensis” in the coming inoculum from the sidestream MBBR, Candidatus "Kuenenia stuttgartiensis" was effectively enriched in the biofilm biomass of the mainstream MBBR. Moreover, the enhanced activity of Candidatus "Kuenenia stuttgartiensis" was demonstrated through the whole time series experiments, and achieved the most competitive level among all functional groups. Therefore, the importance and necessity of bioaugmentation are addressed during the enrichment of mainstream anammox process.

Successful enrichment of a mainstream anammox moving bed biofilm reactor was accomplished at low nitrogenous substrate and low temperature. 16S amplicon sequencing was employed to investigate the microbial ecology of the biomass in the biofilm and suspension. Results showed the dominance of Candidatus "Kuenenia" related anammox bacteria in the biofilm of mainstream reactor, though Nitrospira spp. related nitrite oxidizing bacteria were still detected in a limited fraction. These results are crucial to show the effective enrichment of anammox reactor by bioaugmentation even under low temperature, especially in a practical way.

The performance, kinetics, and microbial ecology were studied before, during, and after the imposition of additional organic carbon. The dosing of organic carbon resulted in a reversible negative impact on both the activity of AMX and the reactor performance. Stable isotope probe and 16S amplicon sequencing were applied to investigate the metabolism of functional groups. The results showed anammox bacteria are not capable of assimilating acetate, while the community assimilating 13C-labeled acetate was mainly assigned to denitrifiers. Presence of denitrifiers were observed in the mainstream MBBR and stayed inactive without sufficient organic carbon. In sum, these results demonstrate that the mainstream anammox process as tested was resilient to a short period imposition of organic carbon.

The performance and microbial ecology of the ambient-temperature mainstream anammox were investigated under wet-weather conditions. Based on the full recovery of reactor performance, as well as the stable microbial ecology, the applicability of the mainstream MBBR under wet-weather conditions was demonstrated.

Real-time polymerase chain reaction was applied to evaluate the startup and operation of two parallel sidestream DEMON™ systems, as well as the initiation of the mainstream anammox process through bioaugmentation. Results provided the evidence that anammox bacteria was the most abundant functional group in two parallel DEMON™ systems, showing the successful startup in the sidestream. Furthermore, anammox bacteria were selectively retained in the mainstream with high bioaugmentation rates from the sidestream. These results are critical to demonstrate the significance of bio augmentation in the startup of mainstream anammox system even in full-scale wastewater water treatment plants.

Finally, a sensitive and reliable spectrophotometric method was proposed to measure hydrazine concentration in anammox reactor. The concentration of hydrazine could be precisely determined in the presence of nitrite, when certain amount of sulfamic acid is introduced.

Manure Resource Recovery

    • 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.
    • 4 refereed publications produced.
    • 3 conference presentations given, and 3 proceedings papers produced.
    • Evaluation of 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.
    • The existing Nutrient Tracking Tool (NTT) program was modified 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 recovery systems 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.
    • 1 peer-reviewed video and 1 peer reviewed extension publication, 1 field day, and 5 webinars produced.

Enhanced Removal of Nutrients and Trace Organics in Pilot-Scale Stormwater Treatment Systems

The project advanced practical technologies that treat urban runoff for release to surfaces waters or for groundwater replenishment and storage. Urban stormwater can be a significant source of pollutants, including nutrients, trace organic compounds, and pathogens. The development of a novel treatment system for nutrient removal included woodchips to biologically degrade nitrate along with biochar to remove trace organics. The woodchip/biochar bioreactors host an endemic population of microorganisms that can be harnessed to degrade organic pollutants and thereby provide a multipurpose stormwater treatment technology.

The 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. Pilot-scale stormwater filtration systems were designed, developed, and tested in the field using stormwater collected in the local watershed and fed that into test columns that were carefully monitored. The pilot-scale research informed the design, operation, and optimization of a full-scale stormwater treatment system. The results included 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 results suggest that a stormwater treatment approach with mixed-media filters are advantageous due to its extra value regarding removal of nitrate and trace organic contaminants. The amendment of woodchips or sand in these passive infiltration systems with local, low-energy and low-cost carbonaceous adsorbents (e.g., biochar) has proven to be a promising technology in the studied urban area. Some utilities could benefit from a novel bioinfiltration technology that will bring long-term improvement to the stormwater recharge quality and quantity. Because municipalities already face tightening regulatory limits on typical stormwater chemical contaminants, removal of emergent contaminants could prepare utilities for upcoming compliances. This study is the first step in the development of improved stormwater treatment systems. However, larger demonstration tests and long term operational monitoring is required to provide assurance that water quality standards are being continuously met.

One of the lessons learned from this project was the failure of the iron enhanced sand filtration unit (i.e., Minnesota filter module) designed to remove phosphate. Although there are many cases in the literature that demonstrate its capacity to remove phosphorus, we believe that operational and maintenance issues require further study. For example, the clogging of this unit might have been avoided with smaller flow rates, installing a pretreatment system before this unit to reduce TSS load, and proper maintenance (e.g., scrapping off the top layer every one or two months of operation).

Tool for Evaluating Resource Recovery (TERRY) - Nutrient Recovery from Agriculture

Several mature nitrogen and phosphorus technologies that are applicable for the agricultural industry were identified. Fact sheets were prepared for each of the identified technologies. The MS Excel based module (TERRY-Ag) was finalized which will allow users to estimate capital and operating costs associated with implementing the nutrient recovery technologies. This was based on existing capital, O&M information regarding the technologies, and on four scenarios (two for phosphorus recovery and two for nitrogen recovery). Upon completion of the TERRY-Ag tool, a tutorial was developed which walks the user through the tool, explaining input requirements, and offering suggestions on how to use the outputs to make informed decisions about implementing nutrient recovery at their facilities.

Finding and adding Agricultural BMP Performance Studies to the Agricultural BMP Database

The AgBMPDB includes performance data and metadata that document the many field-based and practice-based variables that affect BMP performance. The AgBMPDB will also be useful for watershed assessments and planning efforts. The most recent version 2.0 release of the AgBMPDB continues to focus on row crops, particularly corn and soybeans.

Including more studies in the AgBMPDB will make the database more useful to planners, consultants, and producers. A significant amount of research has taken place in the Midwest and Chesapeake Bay regions, making them a good place to focus to increase the number of studies in the database. The project team investigated data sources from a previous project with the Walton Family Foundation, as well as others suggested based on current and previous research for inclusion in the AgBMPDB. The goal was to obtain at least 12 studies that could be used to populate the database from the upper Midwest (Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa).The Center also contacted researchers from the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech and Penn State University, among others, with the goal of attaining at least 12 studies for populating the database from the Chesapeake Bay watershed (Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). A total of 102 studies were reviewed: 29 from the upper Midwest; 48 from the Chesapeake Bay watershed; and 25 either outside the study area, with unknown locations, or literature reviews covering multiple regions.

Data entry spreadsheets for the AgBMPDB were compiled for 8 studies from the Chesapeake Bay watershed and 8 studies from the upper Midwest.Some of the studies that were initially thought to be a good fit for the database were found to be missing key pieces of information as they were closely reviewed during data entry. The value of the AgBMPDB will grow as it is further populated. Version 2.0 of the AgBMPDB provides useful information for quantitatively evaluating agricultural BMP performance; however, it is still relatively limited in terms of the number of studies available for use in rigorous statistical comparisons

Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management,Capstone Summit

The Summit provided an opportunity to learn of other nutrient management activities outside the scope of WRF's Research Center. Guests from the Water Environment Federation (WEF), Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) were invited to share their nutrients related efforts. WRF staff were also invited to give a brief synopsis of nutrient related research in the Program Areas of LIFT, "Linkages with Water Quality,""Reuse from Agriculture,""Integrated Water Management," and "Nutrients and Resource Recovery," the latter being an effort since 2005. Because the Nutrients Program Area has been a predominant focus for WRF, the Principal Investigators were invited to share their findings on innovative nutrient removal technologies and nutrient regulations.

Attendees identified the following research needs and gaps to effectively manage nutrients:

  • Better water quality models and watershed based solutions that consider all nutrient species, all nutrient sources, and innovative-protective approaches, such as robust, reliable, and sustainable treatment technologies.
  • Data sufficiency or guidelines on the frequency and number of samples needed of nutrients.
  • Examination of the impact of water conservation plays on nutrient removal as a whole, especially with shifting wastewater characteristics and climate impacts. How are we changing the way systems are designed? Consider the possibility that there is a scientific basis that lower nutrient concentration will need to be achieved - safety factors need to be considered. What are the future effluent concentrations going to be, and how does climate change impact the effluent concentrations? Nitrogen species are important for treatment methodology and water quality, but how are they aligned with everything else? Is there a scientific basis to use lower limits that have safety factors, to avoid overspending public money. The science of nutrients and reasonable numbers today and in the future are not what they were in the 1990s. We must base numbers on current and future needs.
  • Need to better engage the nonpoint perspective and the public to solve the nutrient loading issues.
  • Need to balance removal of nitrogen with phosphorus in wastewater, biosolids, and other end products. For example, what do want to be land applying? How does it affect what is happening in the plant?
  • Need to focus on other approaches such as nutrient removal from natural systems. An example is the SWIFT project that is meeting multiple objectives (not just nutrient removal) in a general way.
  • Examine the sea level rise and impacts on septic systems/decentralized systems. Long term assistance could lead to tying into the sewer to aid with nutrients. But there is also an outreach issue, especially with farmland. Low lying farmland is getting salt incursion. This impairs the farmland and may release nutrients from the soil.
  • We need an outcome based approach that are flexible, encourage innovation, and incentives for exceeding requirements. Need guidance on innovative funding opportunities and collaboration with small businesses (SBIR program, etc.) and how to deal with nutrients and other contaminants on a more regional level. Continued communication with permit writers would be helpful. Flexible permits could account for variable conditions and incentives to improve performance. We can also address the barriers to water quality trading, early nutrient reduction incentives, and better BMP design.
  • Can systems take care of TMDL requirements? From practitioner's standpoint, budget is slim, what is happening to nutrients and the scientific perspective? Is the system providing other benefits aside from removing nutrients and how can that be proven? TMDLs that track nutrients, salt, suspended solids. What are the unintended consequences of removing nutrients (more costs in dewatering)?
  • More exploration on sidestream treatment and nitrogen recovery instead of only nutrient removal.
  • Regarding nutrient recovery - Several recovery products do not have a good business case. We need market-driven solutions. Should work with the market sooner and then come up with technologies needed. What has value first on the market side (agriculture, farmers, food industry)? In Europe, they are focusing more on renewable nutrients. If there can be set targets for the fertilizer industry and others that would be helpful in removing more. But will regulations need to be established for impactful change?
  • When we protect surface waters, we need to get to low levels of P. Getting to the last 5-10% can be expensive and does not generate large mass of nutrients. Shouldn't be relaxing effort to get to low levels. What are less expensive technologies available to remove P from wastewater?
  • Can we bring nitrogen and P processes closer together? Are BMPs working effectively? What is the difference in how much we pay for different processes? How do we improve what we are currently doing to improve removing N & P? Fairfax County for example, is paying a lot for nitrogen and P removal in stream restoration rather than treatment plant. Restoring streams meet TMDL requirements. Trying to do source control and educating homeowners is key. Stream restoration reduces sediment loads. Many managers are putting stream restoration in for nutrient reduction without thinking about co-benefits. In other words: Combine tools to get most out of the investment. Also climate change impact.
  • What is the current use on nutrients? A lot of policies driving use of commercial fertilizers and public outreach can be negative. By recycling and reusing nutrients within the watershed, is there some point along that trajectory where we start getting ahead of ourselves on cost of treatment? Can we stop new inputs by prioritizing reuse of nutrients or do we get further ahead?

Conclusions:

Nutrient Recovery through Urine Separation

Benefits:

  • Provides valuable details on how source separation and storage of urine can reliably achieve high-quality and marketable struvite using pilot-scale systems.
  • Demonstrates how different fertilizer production approaches for source-separated and stored urine impact the prevalence of trace organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals) and biological contaminants (viruses and antibiotic resistance genes).
  • Provides quantitative data on the pharmaceutical loads that are present in crops (lettuce and carrot) when urine-derived fertilizers are used in field tests.
  • Provides quantitative data on the fate and mobility of pharmaceuticals and nutrients in runoff from land with synthetic fertilizers and urine-derived fertilizers.
  • Engages the public through source-separation demonstrations and thus addresses participation and education.

Life Cycle Assessment of Urine Diversion Wastewater Treatment: Results and Software Tool

The research team's Excel-based tool can be used to compare a selected urine diversion fertilizer production to a conventional system. Its flexibility allows users to input parameters related to water, wastewater, electricity production, and more. The tool is comprised of five different modules. The user inputs characteristics of the system and views basic results on the user interface module. The life cycle assessment module collects all inputs and emissions for each system to create a life cycle inventory, which is then used to calculate a life cycle impact assessment. The unit process modules track the inputs and emissions for each stage of operation. The advanced calculations module tracks more complicated components such as the mass balance or secondary treatment, and exports results to the user interface modules. The compiled data module stores data obtained from a variety of sources, and outputs parameters to unit process and advanced calculation sheets.

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

In sum, the application and characterization of anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) process to treat sidestream and mainstream wastewaters in both lab-scale and full-scale was investigated in detail. From a practical perspective, the knowledge gained can lead to a better design and operation of engineered nitrogen removal process.

Enhanced Removal of Nutrients and Trace Organics in Pilot-Scale Stormwater Treatment Systems

Laboratory experimentation presented in this study has helped advance the state of knowledge of nitrate removal using woodchip bioreactors and the social and economic value of natural treatment systems. The laboratory experiments showed that woodchip reactors follow zero order kinetics using a robust data set collected from experimental columns. This study helped clarify the on-going controversy of whether nitrate removal in woodchip reactors follows first- or zero-order kinetics, or some other kinetic model such as Michaelis-Menten kinetics. Water utility companies may use this information to understand and design systems for the removal of nitrate through implementation of these woodchip bioreactors.

The project leveraged ongoing research on novel approaches for using managed natural systems to improve water quality through the development of modular treatment system for urban stormwater use. The outcomes provide decision makers with tools needed to quantify the benefits to water quality and flood prevention and to overcome barriers that could slow or prevent the implementation of this new approach for expanding the nation's groundwater resources.

Tool for Evaluating Resource Recovery (TERRY) – Nutrient Recovery from Agriculture

Benefits

  • Significantly leverage current investments by the municipal wastewater treatment sector for research and development of commercial extractive nutrient recovery technologies to the agricultural and industrial sectors.
  • Help accelerate the innovation cycle and enable the deployment of multiple extractive nutrient recovery technologies that results in the production of nutrient products with high resale potential.
  • Benefit municipal, industrial, and agricultural industries by providing a defined and structured protocol (e.g., process models and TERRY) for decision making with respect to extractive nutrient recovery.


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)
    RD835567 (Final)
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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)
    RD835567 (2017)
    RD835567 (Final)
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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)
    RD835567 (2016)
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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)
    RD835567 (Final)
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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)
    RD835567 (Final)
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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 resource recovery, nutrients, cost recovery, sustainable nutrient management, ammonia recovery, energy recovery, economic viability, anaerobic digestion, manure, co-digestion of FOG, food waste

    Relevant Websites:

    The Water Research Foundation Exit Exit

    National Research Center for Resource Recovery and Nutrient Management Capstone Summit Exit Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report