Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019WA269B

Reuse of food processing wastewater in Washington State

Institute: Washington
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-05-31 End Date: 2020-05-30
Total Federal Funds: $27,423 Total Non-Federal Funds: $54,847

Principal Investigators: Indranil Chowdhury

Abstract: The objective of this study is to investigate the technical feasibility of treating food-processing wastewater to direct potable reuse in Washington State. Washington State is a leading producer of numerous fruit and vegetable crops. The agriculture and food-manufacturing sector is a cornerstone of Washington’s economy in both rural communities and metropolitan areas. Communities use in excess of 60 percent of their annual potable water to supply food-processing industries. The food processing industries in the arid climate of central Washington are facing challenges due to climate change, water shortage and groundwater depletion. Hence, there is a critical need for reuse of wastewater for sustainability of food processing industries in Washington State. Food processing wastewater is high in salt and organic contents. Excessive salt in the soil will eventually cause the fields to be incapable of growing crops. Hence, desalination of food processing wastewater is necessary. However, desalination of food processing wastewater remains a challenge due to its high salt and organic matter contents. Membranes for treating wastewater with high organic loading are extremely susceptible to biofouling. Therefore, there is a critical need to improve the antifouling properties of membranes to prevent biofouling during the desalination of food processing wastewater. In this project, we will develop novel two dimensional nanostructure-based membranes for desalination of food processing wastewater. Two dimensional nanomaterials, one atom thick, can significantly reduce membrane thickness and reduce membrane fouling and increase water permeability. To address this need and produce effective nanocomposite membranes, we will use a combination of graphene family nanomaterials and transition metal dichalcogenides to provide both antifouling and foul release properties. We will also work with food processing facilities in Quincy and Othello (both in Washington State) as wastewater sampling locations. Washington State Department of Ecology will support our efforts with food processing facilities. It will take three tasks to accomplish the proposed project. In Task 1, we will collect wastewater from food processing facilities in Quincy and Othello, WA. We will develop membranes using the selected two dimensional nanomaterials in Task 2. In Task 3, will include testing the performance of the membranes using the food processing wastewater. Membranes that show excellent antifouling properties will be recommended for the desalination of food processing wastewater with high salt content. The team will work with Washington State Department of Ecology and Washington State Department of Health to discuss the test results and required modifications to meet direct potable standards. This proposed project will provide support for one Ph.D. student and contribute to the thesis of the student. Additionally, this project supports the mentoring of Assistant Professor (Dr. Chowdhury) by a senior faculty member (Dr. Carpenter-Boggs). The work performed will provide the basis for subsequent publications and funding proposals investigating the food wastewater reuse. The research team will disseminate findings of this and future studies to the stakeholders through relationships fostered in the present project.