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.
Former student Juliet Ohemeng-Ntiamoah preparing the co-substrate mixes for co-digestion.
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.
Chemical engineering Assistant Professor Laura Arias Chavez was awarded “Most Outstanding
Professor” in the Department of Chemical Engineering in April 2019 by the Student
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