Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $50,001
Principal Investigators: Dr. Veera Gnaneswar Gude
Abstract: Food demands are continuously rising at global levels, as a result of population growth, while food production sectors face increasing challenges related to water and nutrient scarcity, soil desertification and high fertilizer prices. The availability of soil organic matter and nutrients will become major constraints to achieve sustainable agricultural production. Current methods of macronutrient production (N, P, K, and Mg) and nutrient management practices are not totally sustainable leading to excess release of pollutants from industries and nutrients through runoffs from agricultural fields, respectively. This research will develop a novel technological platform through which an in-situ recovery and recycling of nutrient and water resources can be achieved in agricultural systems. A microbial electrochemical system will be developed in which microorganisms that form biofilms on electrodes will help treat wastewater and recover nutrients. Sustainable materials such as biochar produced from agricultural residues and terracotta will be used as electrodes and separators, respectively, to promote selective deposition and precipitation and thereby reuse of nutrients available in agricultural and other wastewater sources in agricultural fields. The project involves three integrated objectives/tasks: (i) development of sustainable electrodes derived from agricultural residues (biochar) and earthly (terracotta) materials; (ii) evaluation of microbial electrochemical systems for efficient recovery of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) by using sustainable electrodes and separation materials; and (iii) evaluation of energy and resource recovery potential in these systems. Outcomes from this project will help enhance our knowledge on the practical feasibility of nutrient recovery and reuse in agricultural and food production systems.