Water Security & Sustainability
Innovative methods are being developed for the treatment of wastewater and to ensure that water quality is maintained.
The overarching objective of this thrust area is to enable fundamental and applied research on topics aimed toward conserving the quantity and enhancing the quality of our water resources.
This is being done through the assessment and development of innovative water and wastewater treatment technologies; understanding the impact of stormwater runoff on watershed health; the use of an integrated watershed management approach; and groundwater quality assessment.
Research Focus Area Leader: Dr. Tania Datta, Tennessee Tech Water Center
Within wastewater treatment systems, the microorganisms are breaking down the pollutants into non-toxic components. Most systems do this aerobically by adding oxygen to the wastewater stream and generating carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere. But, if one can run the system anaerobically (without oxygen), certain microorganisms generate methane that can be captured and burned as a fuel to generate enough electrical power to make the treatment plant self-powered. That approach has been used by large treatment systems but has not been applied widely to smaller systems because they need high efficiency to work well. The Water Center's work is studying how to improve efficiency via anaerobic co-digestion, which is a process by which plant operators can add high-strength organic substrates such as food waste to augment biogas production.
- Awards and Recognition
- Chemical engineering Assistant Professor Laura Arias Chavez was awarded “Most Outstanding Professor” in the Department of Chemical Engineering in April 2019 by the Student Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at Tennessee Tech. Haley White, chemical engineering Ph.D. student advised by Chavez, won the Best Graduate Student Chemical Engineering Poster award at the 2019 Tennessee Tech Research and Creative Inquiry Day for her work titled “Use of Desalination Brine for Low-Energy Concentration of Orange Juice.” White also earned the American Water Works Association’s Henry “Bud” Benjes Award of $5,000 toward her research.
- Cookeville Wastewater Plant
T. Datta/City of Cookeville
- Efficient Water Resource Use
A. Kalyanapu/UT-U.S. Department of Agriculture
- GOALI: Reclaim Res Wastewater
L. Arias-Chavez/National Science Foundation
- Stream Survey Lick Creek
T. Datta/Water Authority of Dickson County
- Water Quality Tennessee and Kentucky
J. Murdock/The Nature Conservancy-U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Cookeville Wastewater Plant
Journal Articles Published (Fiscal Year 2018-2019)
- Esfahani, R.A., and T. Datta. 2018. "Nitrate Removal from Water Using Zero Valent Aluminum," Water and Environment Journal, accessed online at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/wej.12438.
- Ohemeng-Ntiamoah, J., and T. Datta. 2019. "Perspectives on Variabilities in Biomethane Potential Test Parameters and Outcomes: A Review of Studies Published Between 2007 and 2018," Science of the Total Environment.
- Omori, K., T. Datta, Y. Amano, and M. Machida. 2019. "Effects of Different Types of Extracellular Polysaccharides Isolated from Cyanobacterial Blooms on the Colony Formation of Unicellular Microcystis aeruginsa." Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 26(4), 3741-3750.
Presentations (Fiscal Year 2018-2019)
- Arias Chavez, L.H. “Cultivating Student Engagement, Ethics, and Environmental Awareness in a Large, Introductory Chemical Engineering Course,” presented at the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Research and Education Conference, Tempe, Arizona, May 2019.
- Datta, T., and G. McClellan. “A Look into the Microbial Community of a Wastewater Treatment Facility Undergoing Optimization for Nutrient Removal,” presented at the 2018 KY/TN Water Professionals Conference, Nashville, Tennessee, July 2018.
- McClellan, G., and T. Datta. 2019. “Microbial Community Structure and Stability During Optimization of a Full-Scale Biological Nutrient Removal Process,” presented at the 28th Tennessee Water Resources Symposium, Montgomery Bell State Park, Tennessee, April 2019.
- Ohemeng-Ntiamoah, J., and T. Datta. “Optimizing Renewable Energy Recovery from Organic Waste Substrate Using Anaerobic Co-Digestion,” presented at the AEESP Conference, Arizona State University, Phoenix, May 2019.
- Ohemeng-Ntiamoah, J., and T. Datta. “Exploring Renewable Energy Recovery for Sustainable Wastewater Management,” presented at the 28th Tennessee Water Resources Symposium, Montgomery Bell State Park, April 2019.
- White, H.D., L.M. Templeton, S.L. Jones, and L.H. Arias Chavez. “Use of Desalination Brine for Low-Energy Concentrations of Orange Juice,” presented during the Gordon Research Seminar and Gordon Research Conference on Membranes: Materials and Processes, New London, New Hampshire, August 2018 (Dr. Arias Chavez served as a Discussion Leader at this conference.)
- White, H.D., L.M. Templeton, S.L. Jones, and L.H. Arias Chavez. “Use of Desalination Brine for Low-Energy Concentration of Orange Juice,” presented at the Tennessee Tech Research and Creative Inquiry Day, Cookeville, Tennessee, April 2019 (won Best Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Poster Award).
- White, H.D., L.M. Templeton, S.L. Jones, and L.H. Arias Chavez. “Use of Desalination
Brine for Low-Energy Concentration of Organic Juice,” presented at the Annual Meeting
of the North American Membrane Society,
Pittsburgh, PA, May 2019.
- White, H.D., L.M. Templeton, S.L. Jones, and L.H. Arias Chavez. “Use of Desalination Brine for Low-Energy Concentration of Orange Juice,” presented at the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Research and Education Conference, Tempe, Arizona, May 2019.
- Wigner, R., D. Kirkpatrick, T. Wright, and T. Datta. 2019. “Potential Contributions of Atmospheric Deposition to Nitrates and Ammonia in Tennessee’s Highway Stormwater Runoff ,” presented at the AEESP Conference, Arizona State University, Phoenix, May 2019.