Sustainable Sorbents and Monitoring Technologies for Small Groundwater Systems

EPA Grant Number: R835175
Title: Sustainable Sorbents and Monitoring Technologies for Small Groundwater Systems
Investigators: Westerhoff, Paul , Hristovski, Kiril D
Current Investigators: Westerhoff, Paul , Dotson, Aaron , Hristovski, Kiril D
Institution: Arizona State University - Main Campus , University of Alaska - Anchorage
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: December 1, 2011 through November 30, 2015
Project Amount: $500,000
RFA: Research and Demonstration of Innovative Drinking Water Treatment Technologies in Small Systems (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Water


Because groundwaters frequently serve as water supplies for many small systems throughout the USA, we focus on inorganic (arsenic, chromium, nitrate, fluoride) and organic chemicals (total organic carbon (TOC) as a precursors for disinfection by-products, herbicides) that ubiquitously occur in ground waters, pose health hazards to residents served by small systems, and/or have recent regulatory significance. Small systems increasingly have to address treatment of multiple pollutants In groundwater, and therefore we approach this challenge as a simultaneous compliance issue of pollutants in groundwater.


The goal is to develop innovative treatment and monitoring technologies for small drinking water treatment systems to remove common groundwater constituents in extreme environments which can then be applied to other locations. Working in two extreme environments (Arizona and Alaska) with challenging local issues (Native American/Alaskan Lands, temperatures, remote locations, transportation/energy logistics) should allow our findings to be applied to other locations throughout the USA. We propose three research objectives: (1) Develop innovative and sustainable treatment technologies to remove mixtures of inorganic (arsenic, chromium, nitrate, fluoride) and/or organic (TOC, herbicides) pollutants from groundwater; (2) Demonstrate lab-scale approaches for testing and comparing innovative treatment technologies for use by small systems: (3) Select and demonstrate simple spectrometric on-line monitoring systems capable of multi-parameter sensing capable of supporting remote operation and optimization of groundwater sorbent treatment systems.


We will develop two types hybrid sorbents capable of removing multiple contaminants simultaneously as a means to reduce capital costs and ease operation of small systems. First, ion exchange (IX) resins separate one class of pollutants 'While metal oxides impregnated into the IX sorb co-occurring pollutants. Second, activated carbon and locally produced Biochar will be used for TOC and herbicide removal, and impregnated with metal oxides to also remove arsenic as needed. Lab-scale sorbent validation will precede field-scale demonstration. We will demonstrate improvements in small system operation using on-line spectrometric systems with telemetry data feed. We will conduct sustainability comparisons between sorbents and traditional series of treatment unit processes for removing multiple contaminants.

Expected Results:

We will demonstrate the potential to simultaneously remove mixtures of pollutants and precursors from groundwater in extreme environments using single mixed-sorbent media. Testing will involve small systems, including native American and Alaskan ground waters.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 24 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Drinking water, activated carbon, nitrate, chromate, total organic carbon, disinfection by-product, biochar, arsenic

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • Final Report