Engineering class


Water Quality Center

Director: Daniel H. Zitomer, Ph.D., P.E.

The Water Quality Center brings together researchers, government, private foundations, industry and others to solve problems related to lake, river and groundwater quality. These problems often involve municipal wastewater, industrial wastewater, stormwater runoff and drinking water. Research is often multidisciplinary and is performed by experts from engineering, biological sciences, mathematics, statistics and computer science, and other disciplines.

The center maintains a 3,700-square-foot laboratory facility that includes instrumentation (gas chromatographs, high-pressure liquid chromatographs, ICP-MS, total organic carbon analyzers, etc.) and space for testing and research.

Zitomer Lab Group

Mayer Lab Group

McNamara Lab Group

Water Quality Center Facilities

The Marquette University Water Quality Center facilities include laboratories, computing resources and offices. The center laboratories, located in the Engineering Building, include more than 3,700 square feet of space and are equipped to perform physical, chemical and biological analyses of water, wastewater, soil and sludge. Examples of major equipment include environmental chambers, atomic adsorption spectrophotometers, gas chromatographs, ion chromatographs, a carbon analyzer, ICP-MS and equipment for performing bench- and pilot-scale investigations. The Center also has molecular biology equipment to characterize microbial cultures including thermocyclers, gel boxes, and gel imaging equipment. Other laboratories available within the university share the following: scanning and transmission electron microscopes, X-ray diffractometers, and facilities for fabricating and evaluating integrated circuits and sensors.

The center computing facilities are available for faculty and graduate student researchers. The facilities include five personal computers, three data acquisition systems for chromatographs and other equipment, and three printers, including a large-format (42-inch) color plotter for producing posters and other large works.

The Water Quality Center offices, located on the fourth floor of the Engineering Building, include the director, laboratory manager, and other faculty/graduate researcher offices.


Anaerobic Treatment Short Course

Anaerobic Treatment of High-Strength Industrial and Agricultural Wastes

September 4-5, 2013
Marquette University

If you deal with high-strength industrial wastes and need to find the most effective method to handle them, or are involved in operation or design of anaerobic treatment processes, this course is intended for you.

Previous Research in the Water Quality Center

Municipal Anaerobic Digesters as Regional Renewable Energy Facilities

Dr. Daniel Zitomer and Prasoon Adhakari

The objectives of this project are to define appropriate operating conditions, perform full-scale demonstration, and prepare a cost analysis regarding co-digestion of high-strength byproducts and municipal wastewater solids to economically increase renewable energy production in Wisconsin. The raw materials to be digested include (1) I-house beer filter waste form Miller Brewing Co. (2) fermentation waste from Lasaffre yeast company and (3) yeast fermentation waste from Southeast Wisconsin Products. Full-scale testing will be conducted at the South Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant anaerobic digesters. Funding is provided by State of Wisconsin Focus on Energy, Ecology LLC and Marquette University.

Enchancing Solids Destruction From Anaerobic Municipal Digesters

Zitomer and Farid Kade

The purpose of this study was to compare temperature phased and temperature staged anaerobic digestion to conventional mesophilic anaerobic digestion in terms of solids destruction, biomass activity, and pathogen inactivation. Previous studies have established that temperature phased anaerobic digestion (TPAD) may produce more methane, destroy volatile solids, and inactivate pathogenic microorganisms more completely than comparable conventional mesophilic digestion. Also previous studies showed that batch-staged temperature anaerobic digestion (B-STAD) and anaerobic digestion elutriated phased treatment (ADEPT) can produce lower volatile fatty acids (VFA) concentrations in the effluent. The study reported herein also provides information on nutrient addition effects on effluent VFA concentrations and biomass activity.

The conventional mesophilic, TPAD, B-STAD, and ADEPT pilot digesters operated for this study were each fed once a day and, therefore, received a daily slug dose of feed. This had the advantage of holding all particles of sludge for 24 hours at 55oC. However, the daily slug feeding typically resulted in elevated volatile fatty acid concentrations, especially in the thermophilic digester. Each system had a total active volume of 24 liters and was operated at a 15 day hydraulic retention time (HRT). The single-phase conventional anaerobic digestion system was operated under mesophilic conditions. The TPAD system consisted of an 8-liter thermophilic reactor followed by a 16-liter mesophilic reactor. The B-STAD system consisted of the same reactors used in the TPAD system but configured to recycle effluent from the mesophilic reactor to the thermophilic reactor. The ADEPT system consisted of a 16-liter thermophilic reactor followed by an 8-liter mesophilic reactor. Reactors used in the ADEPT system were not mixed.

Each system was fed a municipal sludge blend of 70% primary sludge and 30% waste activated sludge from the City of Janesville Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The advantages of the TPAD system over the conventional digestion system were the production of Class A biosolids and higher generally biomass activity. However, solids destruction results were not statistically different. Daily addition of alkalinity or trace nutrients to the TPAD system was required to buffer the pH above 6.8 due to the high VFA concentrations in the thermophilic reactor.

Alkalinity addition to the TPAD was substituted by nutrient medium addition which resulted in a significant decrease in the VFA concentrations in the TPAD effluent.

The recycling of thermophilic biomass to the thermophilic digester as performed for the B-STAD system showed the advantages of the TPAD system along with the elimination of alkalinity or nutrient addition to maintain thermophilic pH above 6.8.

Thermophilic Anaerobic Digester with Ultrafilter For Dairy Waste Treatment

Zitomer, Thomas Bachman (TEI Corp) and David Vogel

Marquette University in association with TEI Corp. and Frost Dairy Farms is investigating dairy manure digestion using a thermophilic anaerobic digester with an ultrafilter. The goals are to maximize biogas production, maximize solids destruction, and inactivate pathogens. The high temperature of thermophilic digestion can result in Class A biosolids production. The ultrafilter can remove water and dissolved constituents while retaining solids to achieve high solids retention times. The ongoing testing is investigating pathogen inactivation, solids destruction, biogas production, and membrane flux. Funding is provided by TEI Corporation, the State of Wisconsin Focus on Energy, and Marquette University.

Biological Nutrient Removal and Iron Addition for Phosphorous Removal

Zitomer, Craig Heisel (United Water Services) and Elsy Escobar

Iron has traditionally been added at Milwaukee’s South Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant to remove phosphorus. Research was conducted to evaluate the possible implementation of biological phosphorous removal and to optimize iron addition. Biological phosphorus removal was limited by the low concentration of readily biodegradable primary effluent BOD and relatively high nitrate concentrations in return activated sludge. Research focusing on optimum iron addition points, doses, and types of iron-containing chemicals is now being performed. Funding is provided by United Water Services and Marquette University.

Biotreatment of Bottling Company Wastewater, San Leandro, California

Zitomer and Engin Guven

A Bottling Company in San Leandro, California produces a waste stream consisting mostly of corn sweetener in water. Approximately 5,500 gallons of this waste is currently trucked from the plant per week for disposal. Research at the MU Water Quality Center involves anaerobic digestion in sequencing batch reactors to remove the organic pollutants and convert them to methane gas. A bench-scale study was conducted to determine methane production rates under different bioreactor operating conditions. It is anticipated that full-scale biological treatment will be more economical than current trucking and disposal methods. Funding was provided by TEI Corporation.

Ammonia Management at South Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant

Zitomer, Dr. A.E. Zanoni and David Woznicki

The South Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant in Milwaukee treats approximately 90 million gallons of municipal wastewater per day. Researchers at Marquette University and United Water Services, the contract operators of the plant, are investigating methods to more economically remove ammonia from the wastewater using biological methods. The plant uses microorganisms contacted with wastewater in the presence of oxygen to remove organic pollutants and oxidize ammonia. The research involves devising continuous monitoring and control methods to accurately adjust aeration rates in an effort to reduce the energy requirements. Other process modifications are being investigated to remove ammonia from the wastewater. Funding was provided by United Water Services and Marquette University.

Waste Aircraft DeIcing Fluid Treatability: Evaluation of Anaerobic Digestion

Zitomer, Kathleen McGrady and Noelle Ferguson

Aircraft is typically sprayed with chemical deicers during cold weather to maintain flight safety. The major constituent of many deicers is propylene glycol which is applied to planes, then falls to the pavement and mixes with precipitation, becoming airport deicing runoff (ADR). Because propylene glycol exerts a high five-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), untreated runoff can cause oxygen depletion in rivers and streams. Therefore, treatment of the waste fluid before discharge is often required. Researchers at Marquette University have determined suitable treatment parameters for biological co-digestion of domestic wastewater solids and ADR. Since ADR is only generated seasonally, it is economical to employ existing municipal digesters to convert ADR to methane. In addition, the domestic wastewater solids provide nutrients and alkalinity required for sustained biological methane production. Existing municipal digesters can be employed to convert the deicing fluid organics to methane which can be used to run equipment or generate electricity. Funding was provided by General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee County, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. (Zitomer, D. H., Ferguson, N., McGrady, K., and Schilling, J. (2002) “Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Aircraft Deicing Runoff and Municipal Wastewater Sludge,” Water Environment Research, 73(6), 645-654.)

High-Sulfate, High COD Wastewater Treatment Using Aerated Methanogenic Fluidized Beds
Many industrial wastewaters have both high organic pollution and sulfate concentrations. Although anaerobic biological conversion of organics to methane may be an economical option, the process is inhibited by the toxicant hydrogen sulfide which is formed from sulfate. Therefore, sulfate-containing wastewaters are often not easily amenable to conventional methanogenic treatment. In the research performed at Marquette University, air was passed through methanogenic fluidized bed reactors (FBRs). This resulted in increased methane production as compared to a strictly anaerobic FBR treating high sulfate wastewater. Organics removal increased from 25% for a strictly anaerobic FBR, to 87% for an aerated FBR. Direct, limited aeration of FBRs is described as a method for increased COD removal when treating high COD, high sulfate wastewater (Zitomer, D. H., and Shrout, J. D. (2000) "High Sulfate, High COD Wastewater Treatment Using Aerated Methanogenic Fluidized Beds, "Water Environment Research, (72)1, pp.90-97.)
Propylene Glycol Aircraft DeIcier Biodegradation Kinetics Using Different Reactor Configurations

Zitomer and Dr. Gulseven Tonuk (Gazi University in Turkey)

The objective of this study was to determine and compare the rates of aircraft deicing waste bioconversion to methane in three engineered systems: complete-mix stirred tank reactors (CMSTRs), anaerobic filters (AFs), and fluidized bed reactors (FBRs). Maximum specific removal rates of 0.93, 0.30, and 0.045 gram chemical oxygen demand (COD) per gram volatile solids per day were determined at temperatures of 35, 24, and 11°C, respectively. An Arrhenius equation temperature correction coefficient (Q) of 1.11 was determined. The most significant increases in overall COD removal rates (mg COD/L-day) were a result of: (1) biomass immobilization and increased biomass concentration in AFs and FBRs, and (2) increased biomass/substrate surface area in FBRs and well-mixed CMSTRs. Maximum overall rates were attained in FBRs since both biomass concentration and biofilm surface area were high. (Zitomer, D. H., and Tonuk, G. (2003) “Propylene Glycol Deicer Biodegradation Kinetics: Anaerobic Complete-mix Stirred Tank Reactors, Filter, and Fluidized Bed,” Journal of Environmental Engineering ASCE, 129(2), 123-129.)

Energy Generation From Waste DeIcing Fluid

Zitomer and McGrady

This research was performed for the Wisconsin Renewable Energy Assistance Program and involved biological methane production from waste aircraft deicing fluid, with an emphasis on using the methane as an energy source. For every pound of propylene glycol deicing fluid treated, approximately 10 cubic feet of methane is produced which can be burned to yield approximately one kwhr of electricity. The South Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant anaerobic digesters presently treat some wastewater solids, but have the capacity to treat more waste. The biogas produced at the plant is used to power engines for electricity generation and to run equipment. Unfortunately, natural gas must still be purchased to meet total energy demands. Bench-scale research at Marquette University demonstrates that the deicing fluid could be treated in the present anaerobic digesters and extra biogas will be produced. Pilot tests involving the addition of deicing fluid to the full-scale anaerobic digesters were performed. Waste deicer form General Mitchell International Airport is now treated using the South Shore digesters.



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