Municipal Sewage Sludge Based Composite Adsorbents For Removal Of Contaminants from Drinking Water Sources

EPA Grant Number: R835178
Title: Municipal Sewage Sludge Based Composite Adsorbents For Removal Of Contaminants from Drinking Water Sources
Investigators: Bandosz, Teresa J , Zhang, Pengfei
Institution: The City College of New York
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: December 1, 2011 through May 31, 2016
Project Amount: $499,746
RFA: Research and Demonstration of Innovative Drinking Water Treatment Technologies in Small Systems (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Drinking Water , Water


The objectives of the proposed research are to: (1) Conduct laboratory batch tests to evaluate the performance of sewage sludge based adsorbents for the removal of the following groups of compounds: (a) carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs); (b) nitrosamine disinfection byproducts; and (c) pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs); (2) Optimize processing conditions to produce the most efficient sludge based adsorbent for the removal of aforementioned contaminants from drinking water sources; and (3) Conduct field pilot scale column tests to evaluate the performance of the optimal adsorbent for the removal of VOCs at the Cadmus Place Groundwater Treatment Plant and pharmaceuticals and EDCs at the Little Falls Water Treatment Plant, both in NJ.


The proposed research will be conducted in four phases. In the first phase, composite materials will be prepared by simple pyrolysis of sewage sludges followed by their physical activation. Their design (composition) will cover a broad range of chemistry and structural properties (pore size distributions). Then the structural and chemical characterization of the adsorbents obtained will be carried out. In the second phase, the performance of the new materials as adsorbents will be evaluated through batch adsorption tests. In the third phase, the optimal process conditions will be formulated and the examples of the catalytic/adsorptive properties will be demonstrated. The evaluation of adsorption capacity for target organic contaminants will be the criterion determining the specific directions of the research. In the fourth phase, pilot scale column tests will be conducted at two drinking , water treatment facilities to evaluate the performance of the optimal adsorbent.

Expected Results:

An optimized, sewage sludge derived composite adsorbent will be developed for the removal of a wide range of organic contaminants from drinking water sources. The adsorption capacities of this material for selected organic contaminants under batch and flow through conditions, will be determined. This adsorbent could be used as granular media in existing granular activated carbon units or in point-of-use devices in small drinking water systems. The cost of the new adsorbent would be cheaper than activated carbons because the raw materials (sewage sludge) could be obtained for free or even with recompense, and there is a sustainable source of sewage sludge (generated at 10 million dry tons annually in the US) for the composite material. The conversion of wastes to efficient adsorbents would eliminate environmental pollution caused by accumulation of those wastes. The application of these inexpensive adsorbents for the removal of contaminants from air and water would further lead to a healthier, more sustainable environment.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 19 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 8 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

waste reduction, remediation, environmental chemistry

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • Final Report