Sustainable Wastewater Treatment Systems Focus Area in Ecological Engineering
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.