Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences
Faculty Advisor: Rob Nerenberg
Effect of hydroxylamine on the structure and function of nitrifying biofilms
This project studies a novel, biofilm-based treatment technology for wastewater treatment. Wastewater treatment is a major energy sink, accounting for 2 - 4% of electrical energy consumption in the US. Our proposed treatment could greatly reduce these energy demands, or even make wastewater treatment energy positive. We propose a new biofilm process combining gas-permeable membranes with water- permeable membranes. The gas-permeable membranes supply O2 with nearly 100% efficiency. The water-permeable membranes supply a chemical to alter the microbial community of the biofilm growing on the membrane assembly. Specifically, we propose supplying hydroxylamine, which we hypothesize can alter the biofilm community in ways that reduce the O2 requirements and allow more wastewater organic matter to be directed to the anaerobic digesters. These anaerobic digesters produce methane, an energy carrier that can be used to fuel cars, produce electricity, or provide heat.