Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NJ370B

Developing a green technology to remove phosphate and pharmaceuticals from wastewater effluents

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,315

Principal Investigators: Saumik Panja, Yang Deng, Dibyendu Sarkar

Abstract: Unregulated, emerging contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, and nutrients, typically present in wastewater effluents are major challenges for wastewater reuse. This project aims to evaluate the performance of a green, cost- and energy-efficient phytoremediation technology the Vetiver System (VS) - utilizing a fast growing, high biomass grass, namely vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) in removing phosphate and pharmaceuticals (in addition to traditional wastewater pollutants) from treated wastewater, for the purpose of water reuse. Vetiver grass is a noninvasive plant with an extensive and dense root system, characterized by its fast growth, and high root to shoot translocation of nutrients. It can remove a broad range of pollutants via multiple biochemical and physiological mechanisms. In this 1-year feasibility study, we propose a 3-task research agenda. Laboratory-scale tests will be first performed to evaluate the efficiency of VS in removal of traditional wastewater contaminants (Task 1), followed by specific studies on removal of phosphate and two selected pharmaceuticals (tetracycline (TTC) and ciprofloxacin (CIP)) at various concentrations (Task 2). Key factors, such as residence time, temperature, and plant density, will be evaluated. In Task 3, we will perform a comparative cost-benefit analysis vis-is treatment efficiency for VS and other treatment technologies. Results will be used to develop a large-scale project to optimize and demonstrate the VS technology in pilot-scale and field tests in New Jersey. Successful completion of this project will be the first step toward development of innovative, green and sustainable wastewater treatment technology that has the capability of addressing both traditional and emerging contaminants.