Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000
Principal Investigators: Saumik Panja, Dibyendu Sarkar
Abstract: Pharmaceutical compounds, one of the major emerging contaminants, and traditional contaminants, such as nutrients in wastewater effluents pose a serious threat to the aquatic environment and public health. Excess nutrients in surface water triggers eutrophication, and antibiotics and their byproducts facilitate the emergence of resistant microorganisms. Traditional wastewater treatment plants are not required to remove antibiotics as they are not regulated by law. However, prolonged persistence of antibiotics in environment and emergence of antimicrobial resistance have built interest in the scientific community, and significant research is ongoing for development of innovative, economic and environment-friendly remediation techniques to remove these contaminants from wastewater. In our previous study, we demonstrated - in a laboratory scale - that hydroponically grown vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is capable of removing two widely used antibiotics, ciprofloxacin (CIP) and tetracycline (TTC), and nutrients, such as N and P from secondary wastewater effluents. In this project, we are focused more on scaling up of this phytoremediation technology, and finding a way to utilize the spent biomass. In this 1 yearlong study, we propose a 3-task research agenda, namely, 1) understanding the science in a molecular scale that is responsible for vetiver’s capability to uptake and sequester the antibiotics, 2) developing a sustainable technology to manage spent plant biomass via production of bioethanol, and 3) scaling up the vetiver system to a pilot-scale study in a constructed wetland setup for optimization of engineering parameters. Successful completion of this study will pave the way towards field-scale implementation of a sustainable wastewater cleanup technology that will target both traditional and emerging contaminants.