Facility Opens for Testing Innovative Water Technologies

Achievement date: 
2016
Outcome/accomplishment: 

A new facility opened that enables scientists to test and accelerate the commercialization of technologies for recovering clean water and energy from wastewater. The Codiga Resource Recovery Center (CR2C) was developed at the Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), an NSF-funded center with headquarters at Stanford University.

Impact/benefits: 

With its ability to pilot-test promising technologies for resource recovery, the Codiga center could transform efforts to produce energy and clean water from wastewater—instead of viewing wastewater treatment only for as eliminating hazardous materials. The CR2C will help policymakers see not only that technology exists that can achieve those goals, but that it can affordably and sustainably handle the millions of gallons of water generated by real-world systems. Only then will government agencies be willing to spend millions, or potentially billions, on technology to draw clean water, nutrients, energy, and renewable materials from wastewater. 

Explanation/Background: 

The center, funded by the university and a gift from a Stanford alumnus, employs several testing methods that help in the design of wastewater-treatment technologies and techniques. Four testbeds, for example, allow viable studies of wastewater at different grades. The Codiga center draws wastewater from a sewage pipe below a nearby street.

The facilities include the fourth and largest Staged Anaerobic Fluidized Bed Membrane Bioreactor in the world, and the first such system demonstrated in the Western Hemisphere. Wastewater plants long have relied on aerobic treatment processes, which typically employ oxygen-consuming bacteria to digest biological waste. Anaerobic processes instead convert organic material into methane that can be captured as an energy source, and generate lower levels of biosolids that themselves become a waste.

The facility also can help researchers improve remote sensing and monitoring equipment that will test the quality of water.