WRF presents $100K research award for wastewater resource recovery

Oct. 30, 2023
The Water Research Foundation presented the 2023 Paul L. Busch Award to William Tarpeh for his research to produce fertilizers, fuels, and commodity chemicals from wastewater.

Last week, The Water Research Foundation (WRF) presented William Tarpeh, PhD, with the 2023 Paul L. Busch Award, providing $100,000 for research in wastewater resource recovery.

With the $100,000 research prize, Tarpeh will continue his innovative work in resource recovery at his laboratory at Stanford University.

Tarpeh is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment. There, he and his students reimagine liquid waste streams, developing novel approaches to wastewater resource recovery. They are working to create a toolbox of selective processes that can produce high purity fertilizers, fuels, and commodity chemicals from wastewater.

Tarpeh’s recent research project, Characterizing, Categorizing, and Communicating Next-Generation Nutrient Removal Processes for Resource Efficiency, yielded insights on the five major barriers to nutrient removal and recovery. This research not only revolutionized the understanding of wastewater resource recovery, but also laid the groundwork for the future of resource-efficient nutrient management.

On receiving the Paul L. Busch Award, Tarpeh said “It definitely feels like a vote of confidence in what my students and I are doing. We've been at it five years, which feels like both a long time and a short time, but it feels like we've come up with a vision that others think can really leave an impact on our field.”

With his current efforts to distill all of wastewater's many valuable elements,Tarpeh is more inspired than ever to conduct research that will rework current water recycling systems such that what is viewed as "waste" today may be seen as "liquid gold" tomorrow.

“With the Paul L. Busch Award, we highlight people who can take these incredible, technical, and complex questions and present them in a way where they can be accessible,” said Peter Grevatt, CEO of WRF. “We can then start to imagine the things that can be achieved at water resource recovery facilities.”