Mentor: Dr. Ron Sims
Bioenergy and Waste Reduction from Municipal Reclaimed Water
This project is a collaboration with Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility, WesTech-Inc., and the Sustainable Waste to Bioproducts Engineering Center focused on using algae to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater. Excess nutrients in waterways have the potential to cause environmental damage through increasing the number of harmful algae blooms and polluting waterways which are used for recreation and agriculture. Increased nutrient requirements from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality have led many wastewater facilities to require additional plant modifications which increase costs. Many facilities have increasingly turned to biological treatment methods to decrease costs and increase efficiency. In this project, microalgae were grown on a rotating algal biofilm reactor (RABR) then harvested weekly. The microalgae biomass that is collected was then processed in anaerobic digesters to produce biomethane that can be used for power generation. The microalgae were also investigated as a potential source for nutrients in fertilizer. The initial results show promise for using RABRs as method for wastewater remediation and bioproduct generation. This research is providing valuable information for improving water treatment in Utah.