Electrochemical Nitrate Remediation of Rural Water

EPA Grant Number: SU836764
Title: Electrochemical Nitrate Remediation of Rural Water
Investigators: Gadgil, Ashok
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources


Further develop iron-electrocoagulation (Fe-EC) technology for small systems by demonstrating and characterizing nitrate removal and demonstrating method performance, estimating operating costs and comparing to existing treatment options.


Nitrate is already recognized as the world’s most common groundwater contaminant, and levels of nitrate in groundwater are increasing worldwide primarily due to agricultural inputs. Nitrate (NO3-) contamination of groundwater puts many small, rural, and economically disadvantaged communities in places such as California at risk of devastating health problems because no affordable, environmentally benign treatment options exist at small scale. In light of many challenges, there is a promising treatment technology for rural waters: iron electrocoagulation (Fe-EC). Fe-EC is an emerging electrochemical water treatment technology that has generated a great deal of interest as a promising low cost, robust, and low waste option in rural, low-income regions. It is currently being scaled up for arsenic removal. However, the feasibility of Fe-EC for nitrate removal requires further research and testing. The main goal of the team is to develop the Fe-EC technology further and investigate its feasibility as an appropriate solution to nitrate problems.


Our objectives are to: 1) Demonstrate nitrate removal from the higher end of contamination levels to below the EPA limit (10 mg/L NO3-N) using Fe-EC, 2) Characterize nitrate removal performance as a function of initial nitrate concentration, 3) Characterize nitrate removal performance as a function of pH, and 4) Estimate operating costs of Fe-EC and compare to existing treatment options.

Expected Results:

The main output of the project is assessment of the potential for Fe-EC to provide a low cost and environmentally benign solution to remediate nitrate-contaminated groundwater that is appropriate for small water systems. We will also develop an understanding of the performance behavior as a function of several parameters that will directly inform future technology design and provide a roadmap for technology development. If successful, our efforts will ultimately lead to the development of a technology that can provide nitrate-free, safe drinking water to communities at an affordable price.

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, water treatment, water purification technologies, drinking water treatment technologies, groundwater remediation;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report