Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011IN315B

Reduction of phosphorus concentration in the Wabash River by an environmentally-friendly nanoparticle

Institute: Indiana
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $12,868 Total Non-Federal Funds: $25,847

Principal Investigators: Dong Chen

Abstract: Indiana is located within the Corn Belt and the Grain Belt. Agriculture is so important to the states economy. However, nutrient losses, especially phosphorous (P) from the farmlands to the Wabash River via surface runoff are causing significant eutrophication problems because dissolved P is usually the limiting nutrient for algae growth. Currently, available techniques to control eutrophication are surprisingly scarce. Gypsum is a common soil amendment and has a strong affinity to both P and soils. Prior studies indicated that gypsum decreased both soluble and particulate P concentrations in surface runoff. Nevertheless, nano gypsum will further reduce P loss by providing a much greater specific surface area, higher solubility, better contact with fertilizers, and superior dispersity than conventional coarse gypsum. In addition, it is hypothesized that nano gypsum will deplete soluble P in the river by forming a precipitate of calcium phosphate. The main objectives of this study are: i) examine the efficiency of nano gypsum to retain P in agronomic soils. The efficiency will be compared among nano, crushed and original coarse gypsums and blank soil samples; ii) systematically optimize the dosage, dosing sequence, and pH based on a mechanistic understanding of the interactions among P, gypsum and soils; and iii) investigate the effect of nano gypsum on the existing soluble P in the Upper Wabash River water and the consequence of algae growth. This project is expected to demonstrate a cutting edge technique to protect the water quality and the ecosystems statewide and to support the sustainable development of Indiana. In addition, because gypsum is the major product of the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) process in coal-fired power plants, this study will demonstrate a plan to reuse and reduce the solid FGD waste in Indiana.