Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $13,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $27,063
Principal Investigators: Chul Park, Yasu Morita
Abstract: In the Northeast U.S., combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and rural runoffs take place regularly and are the primary sources that deposit pathogens and heavy metals into surface water, the main source of drinking water in the region. The traditional wastewater treatment methods, such as an activated sludge process and waste stabilization lagoons, do not provide effective means for removing these two most potent pollutants together; thus, it is imperative to find and provide technologies that allow us to treat these water-borne pollutants from various sources of wastewater. The proposed research work deals with a novel biogranule that is naturally formed during wastewater treatment and composed of photosynthetic microalgae and bacteria within one granular biomass. Due to unique physical, biochemical, and biological properties of microalgae residing in the granule we hypothesize that the new algal biogranule process can effectively remove heavy metals and pathogens from both municipal and agricultural wastewater. To conduct this research, we have assembled a multidisciplinary research team from Civil and Environmental Engineering and Microbiology (a new faculty member) with expertise in wastewater treatment, algae-based processes, microbial ecology, and pathology. The main objectives of this collaborative research are to: 1) elucidate the heavy metal removal by algal biogranules, 2) study the efficacy of algal biogranules for inactivating water-borne pathogens, and 3) investigate continuous wastewater treatment by algal biogranule process. We expect that the completion of the first two basic studies will provide strong foundation for the current research while the later bioreactor study will generate the first evidence that algal biogranules remove heavy metals and pathogens in small size of flow-through reactors. It is our expectation that the successful research and development of the proposed method will permit simple but robust treatment processes for both heavy metals and pathogens, which can be easily adopted for not only municipal wastewater treatment but various types of agricultural wastewater treatment on site.