Sustainable Biological Phosphorous Removal: A New Theory to Meet Increasingly Stringent Effluent Discharge Requirements

EPA Grant Number: SU833554
Title: Sustainable Biological Phosphorous Removal: A New Theory to Meet Increasingly Stringent Effluent Discharge Requirements
Investigators: Barkouki, Tammer H. , Loge, Frank , Al-Najjar, Muamar
Current Investigators: Loge, Frank , Barkouki, Tammer H. , Anderson, Dane , Anderson, Jeffery , Moniz, Ryan
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: August 31, 2007 through July 31, 2008
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


A great challenge to sustainability is developing a method of phosphorous removal in wastewater to achieve low effluent concentrations without adding hazardous chemicals.


We propose to make wastewater treatment systems more sustainable by developing a more effective way of biologically removing phosphorous. Through our research we will better understand the mechanisms of enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) and we will develop a new process that reliably and stably accounts for near complete removal of phosphorous from wastewater. An alternative to current EBPR theory, we propose the study of a new theory that more comprehensively integrates the complex microbial metabolisms occurring within a real wastewater environment. We propose that the removal of phosphorus is governed by the stress response, or stringent response, of microbial consortia subjected to unbalanced growth conditions within wastewater treatment. A biological process designed to optimize the microbial stringent response can meet strict discharge limits (0.01 to 0.02 mg P L-) set forth by the US EPA. As EBPR is currently the most environmentally benign method of phosphorous removal, making this process more reliable and stable will diminish dependence on chemical processes and will make a significant contribution towards the overall sustainability of wastewater treatment processes.


In Phase One, we will develop and design an operation criteria for full scale facilities based on this new theory. Specifically, we will determine how the microbial stress response is affected by nutrient feed conditions and transient availability of oxygen. We will then use the data collected in the laboratory to estimate appropriate rate coefficients, and then use these coefficients in mathematical models to develop a conceptual design of a full-scale system.

Supplemental Keywords:

Wastewater Treatment, Enhanced Biological Phosphorous Removal,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report