Frederick co-teaches a course each autumn quarter on Environmental Science and Policy in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies. He’s also a board member of the non-profit Center for the Transformation of Waste Technology, where Sheaffer is the managing director.
Sheaffer established the center in part to carry out an ambitious recycling project in Hammond, Indiana, that involves harnessing treated effluent to irrigate and fertilize cropland and for a host of other income-generating activities. “This project is about taking Hammond’s wastewater and turning it into wealth-producing resources,” Frederick said.
Frederick and Sheaffer met at a roundtable discussion organized by Robert Fefferman, Dean of the Physical Sciences Division. Sheaffer, the president and chairman of Sheaffer International, founded the environmental development company in 1996 to focus on wastewater reclamation and reuse.
Sheaffer told Frederick about his plans for Hammond, and Frederick immediately became involved. “When I see something that looks relevant, I like it,” Frederick said.
Frederick’s role in the project is to examine how it might affect the sequestration of atmospheric carbon. If the project sequesters more carbon than it emits, then the sale of carbon credits is one of several potential sources of income.Wastewater-recycling economics
Farmers need to put down 200 pounds of nitrogen on every acre of corn they grow, at a cost of $80 to $100 an acre or more. It costs approximately 75 cents a pound, meanwhile, for the Hammond Sanitary District’s treatment system to remove it. Tighter federal regulations may be in the offing, said District Manager Michael Unger, which would dramatically increase treatment costs.
“A plant like ours could spend tens of millions of dollars to get rid of all the nitrogen, so it’s very costly,” Unger said. But why pay to remove the nitrogen when it’s a potential resource? “Nitrogen fertilizer prices have gone as high as $1,200 a ton, maybe even higher,” he said.
The BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., sparked the water reuse project several years ago after announcing that it intended to increase the discharge of its effluents into Lake Michigan. Sheaffer initially approached BP with his idea. When that failed to work out, he opened discussions with Michael Unger, manager of Hammond’s Sanitary District.
The project will cost an estimated $129 million, but the revenues it creates can eventually retire the debt and pay for all operations and maintenance, according to Sheaffer. “The thing that’s exciting is the project can pay for itself,” he said.Sheaffer’s team completed a proof-of-concept study last summer. Next, with $2.86 million of planning and design funding, will come development of the plans and specifications for building the project. Sheaffer’s goal is to get the project operational within three years.
Building a self-sustaining system
“You can actually build a self-sustaining system,” Frederick said.
The Hammond Water Reuse Project’s components include:• Diverting the city’s nutrient-laden wastewater from flowing into the Grand Calumet River, thence Lake Michigan, into 11,350 acres of irrigated farm land to grow crops
As science adviser to the Secretary of the Army in 1972, Sheaffer helped write the Clean Water Act. The Department of the Army, which has longstanding responsibilities for the nation’s water-resource management and flood control, honored him for Exceptional Civilian Service that same year.
“If you read the Clean Water Act, it says we are to generate revenue that will pay not only for the wastewater treatment, but also pay for other environmental improvements. This is probably the first project that will do that,” Sheaffer said.
“I was dreaming back then about how it ought to be done. I was not aware that anybody ever did it, and it didn’t look like anybody really wanted to do it. But Hammond can be the project.”
Steve Koppes | Newswise Science News
Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut
Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research