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Sustainable Wastewater Treatment

Ecological Engineering (M.S., Ph.D.)

Sustainable Wastewater Treatment utilizes natural processes (e.g., photosynthesis, passive aeration, and microbial oxidation), renewable sources of energy (e.g., sunlight, wind, gravity, and biomass), natural materials and waste products (e.g., marble chips, rubber mulch, and furnace slag), and self-organization of ecosystems (e.g., microbial loop, aquatic plant community, and integration of nitritation and anammox in biofilms) to reach wastewater treatment, reuse or resource recovery goals. Because sustainable wastewater treatment relies on minimal fossil fuel energy and fewer mechanical processes, it is often cost-effective, compared to conventional wastewater treatment methods.

Our faculty and students have constructed and tested novel treatment wetlands, biofilters, vermifilters, and aquaponics in the northern U.S., Canada, and Honduras. In addition to investigating their applications, we explore the internal treatment mechanisms, and develop mechanistic models. We are thriving in sustainable struvite recovery from anaerobically digested dairy manure, producing revenues to underrepresented farmers while mitigating environmental impacts.

Representative publications in this area by our faculty and students (recent five years):image

  • Huchzermeier M., and Tao W. 2011. Overcoming challenges to struvite recovery from anaerobically digested dairy manure. Water Environment Research, 83: in press.
  • Tao W. 2011. Design Ecological Treatment Systems for Nitrogen Removal through Nitritation and Anammox. In: N. Savaglio and R. Puopolo (eds.), Denitrification: Processes, Regulation and Ecological Significance. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY. ISBN 978-1-61470-879-7. In press.
  • Tao W., Wen J., and Norton C. 2011. Laboratory study on factors influencing nitrogen removal in marble chip biofilters incorporating nitritation and anammox. Water Science and Technology, 64(6): 1211-1217.
  • Tao W., Wen J., and Huchzermeier M. 2010. Batch operation of biofilter - free water surface wetland series for enhancing nitritation and anammox. Water Environment Research. 83(6): 541-548.
  • Tao W., Hall K., and Zeng W. 2010. Solar photodegradation of tannins in wood leachate. In: G.K. Petridis (ed.), Tannins: Types, Foods Containing, and Nutrition. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY. ISBN: 978-1-61761-127-8. Chapter 15. pp.327-334.
  • Tao W. 2010. Investigation into heterotrophic activities and algal biomass in surface flow stormwater wetlands. International Journal of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2(4): 218-221.
  • Tao W., and Wang J. 2009. Effects of vegetation, limestone and aeration on nitritation, anammox and denitrification in wetland treatment systems. Ecological Engineering, 35: 836-842.
  • Tao W., Hall K., and Ramey W. 2007. Effects of influent strength on microorganisms in surface flow mesocosm wetlands. Water Research, 41(19): 4557-4565.
  • Tao W., Hall K.J., and Duff S.J.B. 2007. Microbial biomass and heterotrophic production of surface flow mesocosm wetlands treating woodwaste leachate: responses to hydraulic and organic loading and relations with mass reduction. Ecological Engineering, 31(2): 132-139.
  • Tao W., Hall K., and Hall E. 2007. Laboratory study on potential mechanisms for treatment of woodwaste leachate in surface flow constructed wetlands. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, 6(1): 85-94.

Contact Wendong Tao, wtao@esf.edu for more information about this graduate study area.