Nov 28, 2016

Wastewater Research May Help Protect Aquatic Life

University of British Columbia researchers develop filter guidelines

university of british columbia, wastewater, research, guidelines, phosphorus

Engineers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan campus developed guidelines that can tailor the design of specialized filters (fluidized bed reactors) to local conditions and help prevent phosphorous deposits from forming in wastewater systems.

The wastewater system design guidelines developed at UBC can help municipal governments better protect aquatic life and save millions of dollars a year. The guidelines also help ensure the fluidized bed reactors avoid the release of phosphorus into the environment.

As phosphorus promotes oxygen-depleting algae blooms, its release can suffocate aquatic life.

“If left unchecked, phosphorus can cause significant environmental damage and millions of dollars in additional maintenance costs for large wastewater plant operators, such as municipalities,” said principal investigator Joshua Brinkerhoff, assistant professor of engineering. “These are consequences we obviously want to avoid and the design guidelines developed in this research can help us to do that.”

Using computer simulations, Brinkerhoff and Ph.D. candidate Nima Moallemi were able to test different types of water flow scenarios in a virtual environment and estimate the operating conditions of the fluidized bed reactors that achieve the best mixing of liquid and solid material to remove phosphorus.

The guidelines allow designers to account for differing wastewater rates and quality found in different geographic regions, as the chemical makeup and amount of wastewater varies with geography and city size.

Moallemi and Brinkerhoff’s study was published in the journal Computers and Fluids.