Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018AK138B

A low-cost alternative to mitigate heavy metal and phosphorus contamination in water

Institute: Alaska
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $50,000

Principal Investigators: Debasmita Misra, Srijan Aggarwal, Brittany Blood

Abstract: Heavy metals and phosphate (P) are common contaminants that associate with mining and agricultural practices. These contaminants are mitigated through a variety of processes which includes the application of chemical precipitation, membrane technologies, activated carbon, and biosorptive agricultural waste materials. Sawdust is a potential biosorbent for heavy metals and phosphate, which is both affordable and easily available. Recent studies have shown utility of sawdust as a biosorbent to mitigate heavy metal contaminated water. Also, other studies have considered the application of agricultural waste materials to mitigate phosphate contamination. However, there exists a knowledge gap in terms of applicability of sawdust produced from local Alaskan hard and softwoods for contaminant removal, specifically at colder temperatures. Other factors to consider for heavy metal and phosphate adsorption include the effect of sawdust grain size, sawdust type, pH and temperature on the adsorption of heavy metals. Sawdust has not yet been studied as a phosphate adsorbent. The objective of this study is to provide an understanding of the effects of Alaskan sawdust, its grain size, sawdust type, pH and temperature on the biosorption of lead, cadmium, and phosphate as common mining and agricultural contaminants in Alaska. A batch and column experimental study will be conducted, using heavy metal or phosphate contaminated water and the biosorbent-chemically treated sawdust with varying grain sizes and types, pH under three temperature conditions; 4C, 15C and 30C. This study will lead to the development of a low-cost method of mitigating contamination in drinking water, by maintaining low concentrations and/or appropriate EPA acceptable water quality limits. Such a technology could also be useful for rural Alaskan water treatment applications.