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Clarkson Uni researchers receive $1m for wastewater AD project

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Researchers at Clarkson University, New York, have received a $1 million (€863,600) grant from the US Department of Energy’s (DoE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) for an anaerobic digestion (AD) nutrient recovery project.

Last year, DOE’s EERE announced a funding opportunity to replace the ageing water and wastewater treatment infrastructure with advanced water resource recovery systems.

“I was thrilled by this funding opportunity because our team has been collaborating since I joined Clarkson in 2018, to develop an innovative nutrient recovery technology that exactly DOE seeks to support,” said Taeyoung Kim, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering & Institute for a Sustainable Environment, and principal investigator of the project.

The project, entitled ‘Nutrient Recovery from Anaerobic Digestion Dewatering Sidestream using Bipolar Membrane Electrodialysis’, will see the team develop an electrochemical process to selectively recover nutrients present in domestic wastewater treatment facilities, particularly those present in a stream produced after dewatering biosolids generated by AD.

“AD in wastewater treatment is used to stabilise sludge and reduce its volume but this process also creates ammonia, which is typically wasted without recovery,” commented Stefan Grimberg, professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, who has extensive research experience in AD technology development.

The project has two phases: lab-scale and scale-up system development. The first phase will be managed by Kim, whose research focuses on the development of electrochemical separation processes including nutrient recovery and water desalination. The second phase will be managed by Grimberg, who will install and operate a scale-up system at an actual wastewater treatment facility located in the City of Cortland.

“The sidestream contains a significant amount of ammonia nitrogen and phosphorus, and it is a burden to meet our biological nutrient effluent requirements,” said Bruce Adams, superintendent of the Cortland wastewater treatment facility.

“I’m excited for the potential of the new technology to reduce the degree of nitrogen removal needed in the facility’s main process, as well as lowering chemical costs and sludge production associated with phosphorus removal.”