Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012NJ310B

Understanding metabolic flux dynamics during hydrolytic and fermentative digestion of wastewater treatment sludge for enhanced ammonia-nitrogen removal

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2013-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,001

Principal Investigators: Amanda Luther, Donna E. Fennell

Abstract: Excess nutrient discharge into surface waters can have detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems and water quality, and both nitrate and nitrite can be toxic to humans if these species accumulate in drinking water. Removal of nitrogen and phosphorus during wastewater treatment often results in accumulation of these nutrients in the sludge, which is commonly treated by anaerobic digestion (AD). Through sludge treatment and processing, these nutrients become re-solubilized and must be recycled through primary or secondary treatment, and can represent a significant additional nutrient load on the overall treatment system. This work seeks to develop a novel two-stage anaerobic digestion system for removal and recovery of ammonia in order to eliminate this additional nitrogen loading. The general approach will be to first analyze the nitrogen flow and pH dynamics of the system during the hydrolytic and fermentative stages of AD. Next, we will analyze the metabolic pathways available to the microbial communities through a bioinformatics approach, and attempt to apply these models to our system. From this information we will work to develop molecular techniques for monitoring the system and for process control. Finally, we will perform a fundamental analysis of digester operation for the two-stage system and test the application of these molecular controls. From this research, we expect to develop a better understanding of the complex network of metabolic pathways involved during the hydrolytic and fermentative stage of AD, and to develop much needed molecular tools for process control of AD.