K-State receives $2M grant from Department of Energy for wastewater management project

AJ Dome, The Manhattan Mercury, Kan.
·2 min read

Mar. 23—A research team at K-State will receive $2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to help with water efficiency projects.

The Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on Monday announced awards totaling $27.5 million for water infrastructure projects in 13 states, including Kansas. All of the projects awarded by the energy department focus on developing treatment processes to produce renewable power, extract any chemicals and fertilizers, and reuse water locally, while minimizing energy consumption and waste.

The title of the project that will receive the funds at K-State is "Integrated Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR)-electro-assisted fermentation platform for total resource recovery from diverse wastewaters."

The total cost for the K-State project, according to the Department of Energy website, is about $2.5 million after a cost-share of $499,981 is added to the figure. That money is also intended for evaluating flexible grid service for opportunities to generate power from wastewater and addressing environmental and social inequities caused by a lack of access to clean water among rural communities.

In a statement, energy officials said modern technology has the potential to reduce energy use in aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment, which demands up to 2% of domestic electricity use each year.

"We can't leave any stones unturned on the road to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is why DOE is diving into making our water infrastructure more energy efficient," Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

Granholm said by modernizing water infrastructure such as pipelines and processing facilities, people can reduce electricity demand and turn water utilities into clean energy producers.

According to the Department of Energy, more efficient equipment, processes and operations, along with retrofits to current water treatment facilities, can yield energy savings as high as 50%. Wastewater is also a potential source of thermal, chemical and hydraulic energy, and it could be possible to convert wastewater into renewable power as well as reusable water.