Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study outlines economic and environmental benefits to reducing nitrogen pollution

29.07.2011
Emissions credit system is a win-win for wastewater treatment plants

A new study co-authored by Columbia Engineering professor Kartik Chandran and recently published in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology, shows that reducing nitrogen pollution generated by wastewater treatment plants can come with "sizable" economic benefits, as well as the expected benefits for the environment.

Chandran was one of five scientists from around the U.S. who worked on the study, along with James Wang of NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory and formerly of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF); Steve Hamburg, Chief Scientist for EDF; Donald Pryor of Brown University; and Glen Daigger of CH2M Hill, a global environmental engineering firm based in Englewood, Colorado.

The study found that adding available technology to the existing infrastructure at a common type of wastewater treatment plant could create a trifecta of reductions in aquatic nitrogen pollution, greenhouse gas pollution, and energy usage. It also found that creating an emissions crediting system for the wastewater treatment sector could make the addition of new technologies much more affordable.

"As wastewater permits on wastewater treatment plants become more and more restrictive, the resultant increased capital and operating costs can pose quite a burden to utilities and municipalities," said Chandran, associate professor of earth and environmental engineering. "Our study shows that, if the reduced emissions associated with well-designed and operated biological nitrogen removal operations can be used to earn CO2 credits, then this could be a big benefit both for the utilities from a cost perspective and for the environment from water quality and air quality perspectives."

The majority of wastewater treatment plants already have systems to reduce ammonia levels in effluent, but pay relatively little attention to overall nitrogen pollution reduction, especially in the form of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas. Using emissions credits to address the problem could create an economic incentive of up to $600 million per year for U.S. plants to reduce nitrogen pollution, with the added benefit of up to $100 million per year in electricity savings if they do so.

"Recent N2O monitoring studies conducted by Columbia Engineering and research groups across the globe have found that meeting wastewater treatment objectives actually decreases biogenic N2O emissions," added Chandran. "So designing and adopting better process technologies for improving water quality could actually have a significant impact on reduced N2O emissions."

"Our study shows that there's a win-win-win situation out there waiting to be realized," said James Wang, the chief author of the paper. "The creation of an emissions trading market could provide the needed incentive for wastewater treatment plants to adopt technologies that would reduce climate pollution, help clean up our waterways, and even save energy and money."

Chandran's research focuses primarily on biological nitrogen removal from wastewater, sustainable water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and developing new technologies for resource recovery and reuse from waste. His team recently created the first protocol to measure nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2). Using the protocol, his Columbia Engineering group developed the first nationwide database of N2O emissions from wastewater treatment plants. The database has now been adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the standard to estimate N2O emissions from wastewater treatment plants. Chandran is also working towards developing and implementing "energy-positive" wastewater treatment technologies that will produce energy rather than consume it at some of the largest wastewater utilities in the U.S.

Chandran was recently awarded a $1.5 million project grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a revolutionary new model in water, sanitation, and energy. Working with his partners Dr. Ashley Murray, founder and director of Waste Enterprisers, and Dr. Moses Mensah, a chemical engineering professor at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Chandran is developing an innovative technology to transform fecal sludge into biodiesel and create the "Next-Generation Urban Sanitation Facility" in Accra, Ghana.

Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, founded in 1864, offers programs in nine departments to both undergraduate and graduate students. With facilities specifically designed and equipped to meet the laboratory and research needs of faculty and students, Columbia Engineering is home to NSF- and NIH-funded centers in genomic science, molecular nanostructures, materials science, and energy, as well as one of the world's leading programs in financial engineering. These interdisciplinary centers are leading the way in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve some of society's more vexing challenges. http://www.engineering.columbia.edu/

Holly Evarts | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.columbia.edu
http://www.engineering.columbia.edu/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>