For more information, contact: 
Carrie W. Capuco
Director of Communications 

Unintended Consequences of Resource Recovery on Overall Plant Performance:
Solving the Impacts on Dewaterability Properties (NTRY12R16)

(Alexandria, VA) - Solids handling is a critical component of wastewater treatment. It provides an opportunity to recover valuable resources such as energy, nutrients, and carbon rich soil amendments; however, it can comprise 50% of overall treatment costs to the utility. A large portion of these costs are associated with final dewatering, in particular for the use of polymer. It has been reported that utilities with anaerobic digestion have poor dewaterability conditions after the implementation of enhanced biological phosphorus removal (Bio-P) processes. The impact is serious enough to make Bio-P uneconomical from a whole plant perspective.

In order to assure the viability of Bio-P, WE&RF has entered into a contract with Bucknell University to determine if this phenomenon is more widespread, and to better understand and address dewaterability performance and its impact on Bio-P and P-recovery. Discussions from the WEF/WERF/LIFT Intensification of Resource Recovery Forum showed there is a data gap and lack of consensus on reporting dewaterability parameters and there has not been any defined singular mechanism for the dewaterability impact. This research is intended to fill the research gap and address the relevant fundamental mechanisms on dewaterability, effective plant operating parameters, and overall performance of different enhanced biological phosphorus removal treatments.

This research will be conducted in two phases. Phase 1 will focus on fundamental laboratory-based research to test and develop the biofloc model hypothesis to help explain why Bio-P processes cause a deterioration in floc properties in anaerobic digesters with a subsequent deterioration in dewaterability measured by a decrease in cake solids. Phase 2 will be applied field research to further understand solutions to the poor dewaterability associated with Bio-P systems with an emphasis on solutions that enhance phosphorus recovery. Utility partners have committed to pilot and full-scale testing. The project is anticipated to take 24 months, with the laboratory research taking up 10 months. 

For more information about this project, contact Christine Radke at

The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) is a 501c3 charitable corporation seeking to identify, support, and disseminate research that enhances the quality and reliability of water for natural systems and communities with an integrated approach to resource recovery and reuse; while facilitating interaction among practitioners, educators, researchers, decision makers, and the public.