Low-Cost Active Coating Mulch for Urban Runoff

EPA Grant Number: SU836773
Title: Low-Cost Active Coating Mulch for Urban Runoff
Investigators: Deng, Yang
Institution: Montclair State University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2016 through August 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: P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


Synthesize, characterize and test a low-cost active coating (LAC) mulch for removing multiple contaminants from urban runoff. The new medium will use three low-cost materials with complimentary properties: water treatment residuals, biochar and wood mulch.


The primary objective of this proposal is to synthesize, characterize and test a novel media, i.e. wood mulch coated with biochar and water treatment residuals (a recycled industrial waste) - for retention of multiple contaminants from urban runoff.


Laboratory-scale tests will be performed to optimize the new coated mulches-based design for alleviation of urban stormwater pollutants. In Task 1, LAC mulch will be prepared and characterized. In the subsequent Task 2, beaker tests will be performed to evaluate the performance of LAC mulch for select contaminants in simulated urban runoff. This will provide input data for Task III column tests that evaluate the best LAC mulch determined from Task 2 in terms of hydraulic properties and treatment efficacy with synthetic and real urban runoff under continuous flow conditions. Finally, the ranges of operational parameters for application will be recommended. In Task 4, life cycle analysis will be performed. Select target pollutants include: 1) heavy metals, i.e. Cu, Zn, and Pb; 2) P; and 3) organic pollutants, i.e. benzene (a representative priority pollutant) and gasoline (a major contributor to chemical oxygen demand (COD)).

Expected Results:

The expected outputs first include the new filter media product for stormwater treatment, as well as the LAC mulch-modified bioretention basin design that aims at these pollutants not to be effectively removed using the infiltration systems. For the media application in the BB design, design ranges for major parameters (e.g. the mulch layer deoth) will be recommended, and a model will be developed to predict its performance under different scenarios. In addition, the major technical findings and LCA results will be presented in a peer-reviewed journal (e.g. Water Research) and reported in a national conference. 

The potential outcomes are factual. Application of the modified mulch will directly mitigate urban stormwater pollution to water environment, and thus safeguard ecological and human health. The irreversible adsorption ensures that no desorption or leaching occurs during rainfall events or landfill disposal, and does not cause a secondary pollution. Low-cost coating and simple maintenance significantly reduce the capital and O&M costs, thereby allowing the LCA much enhanced infrastructures more economically competitive in our stormwater management market, and encouraging communities to accept the more friendly and affordable options.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

stormwater pollutant, mulch, biochar, water treatment residual, adsorption, heavy metals, phosphorus, organic pollutants;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Toward Sustainable Urban Stormwater Management with New, Green, Low-Cost Sorbent-Coated Wood Mulch  | 2018 Progress Report  | 2019 Progress Report