Primary Investigator: Valerie Pierre
Co-Investigators: Srikanth Dasari (Postdoctoral Research Scholar)
Industry Partners: Metropolitan Council Wastewater Treatment Plant
Award Type: Seed Grant – Postdoctoral Research Scholar with NRRI Travel Grant
Problem: The over-supply of phosphorus (P) primarily from wastewater discharge and agricultural runoff leads to eutrophication in many inland and coastal waters, causing substantial detrimental environmental impact, including harmful algal blooms, fish-kills, and the formation of hypoxic “dead zones”. Over 65% of US estuaries and coastal waters now exhibit moderate to severe eutrophication, with significant ecological, industrial, and economic consequences. Removal of P from wastewater and agricultural runoff is key to mitigating eutrophication.
Solution: Our overarching goal is to close the P cycle by sequestering phosphate (Pi) from polluted wastewater and waterways and recovering it as slow-release fertilizers. We will develop receptor-functionalized membranes with the ability to catch Pi from wastewater and subsequently release it at will, thereby regenerating the membranes while recovering an important resource.
Impact: The ability to remove phosphate from unwanted locations and to recover it as a valuable resource for agriculture is key to the long-term sustainable use of two critical resources: water and phosphate.