Wastewater treatment and electricity production

Research mentor: Prof. Venkataramana Gadhamshetty, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Waste Water Picture

Lab overview: Dr.Gadhamshetty’s research focuses on the fundamental aspects of graphene nanomaterials, microbial corrosion, and microbial electrochemical systems.

SD-RET Research Project: The teachers will learn to fabricate and operate a laboratory model for microbial fuel cell (MFC), and demonstrate its use for wastewater treatment and electricity production. The teachers will be understand the sustainability aspects of water infrastructure, more specifically, the current energy consumption patterns in typical wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). For instance, the US therefore spends ~4480 MW to support WWTPs every year. Ironically, there is chemical energy available in wastewater (15 kJ/g COD). Can we transform energy-intensive wastewater treatment plants to net energy producers?

The teachers will:

  • learn principles of microbiology, chemical oxygen demand, wastewater treatment as per NPDES permit; microbial electrochemistry, fuel cells, and specifically microbial fuel cells
  • learn to assemble, operate, and maintain a working prototype of a single-compartment MFC and a two-compartment MFC; generate performance curves (e.g. polarization curves) temporal profiles for pH, chemical oxygen demand, and steady-state voltage
  • design and develop MFC curriculum to explain concepts of microbiology, electrochemistry, and wastewater engineering to K-12 education.
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South Dakota School
of Mines & Technology

Department of Mechanical
Engineering