N-E-W Tech. Resource recovery in a novel functionalized biochar, catalytic oxidation, reactive filtration water treatment for N/P removal/recovery and pathogen/priority substance destruction.

Moller, G. University of Idaho & Washington State University, USA

Baker, M., Dunkel, C., D, Shrestha, D., D, Strawn. – University of Idaho, USA


N-E-W Tech is an innovative water treatment process at the nutrient, energy, and water nexus. N-E-W Tech integrates reactive filtration with iron-functionalized biochar and ozone for catalytic oxidation water treatment, sterilizing reclaimed water, and producing a value-added nutrient upcycled fertilizer product that addresses the need for carbon sequestration. N-E-W Tech addresses the negative aspects of several current alternative technologies to water reuse and recycling including their high energy inputs, removal but not destruction of contaminants and pathogens, high capitalmaintenance-operations costs, and their poorer sustainability footprint.
In this work we report on the design-build, water treatment performance, energy efficiency and general operations of this technology built as a 15-gpm pilot process on a mobile trailer. Reactive filtration is our award-winning commercialized, high-efficiency nutrient removal process installed at 10+ MGD at wastewater treatment plants; it uses an iron oxyhydroxide adsorptive process in a moving sand bed filter. Biochar is a bioenergy byproduct made from the pyrolysis of agricultural and forestry biomass. In N-E-W Tech, we demonstrate the addition and recovery of 1 to 10 grams of micronized iron-functionalized biochar per gallon, using this substrate as a sorbent and as a sacrificial catalyst with ozone to form hydroxyl radicals. Oxidation reduction potentials (Eh) ranging from 800 to 1300+ mV are maintained in the reactor during the 10-20 minute process time, demonstrating trace organic compound oxidation capacity. Nutrients selectively adsorb to the recovered functionalized biochar demonstrating agricultural fertilizer potential in this carbon sequestering substrate. Initial N-E-W Tech effluent results from municipal secondary water demonstrate turbidity <0.1 NTU, log 4.5+ removal of E. coli and fecal coliforms, often to below assay count detection limits, effluent total P <0.020 mg/L, pharmaceutical/hormone/steroid destruction to mostly below ng/l analytical detection limits and other promising results.

Pathogens, Phosphorus, Priority Substances, Reactive Filtration, Resource Recovery

Intensification of resource recovery is a global prime mandate for sustainability. The trajectory of increasing population and increasing resource demand for water and food security create an innovation imperative for sustainability in the context of the Food-Energy-Water nexus. Addressing this innovation imperative requires transdisciplinary thinking, creative systems approaches, and translational research products that address the grand challenges of our shared future.

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