WEFTEC.15: WERF presents 2015 Paul L. Busch Award for water reclamation

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Water Environment Research Foundation awarded Dr. Mari Winkler of the University of Washington with the 2015 Paul L. Busch Award during WEFTEC in Chicago, Ill.

ALEXANDRIA, VA, Sept. 30, 2015 -- On Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) awarded Dr. Mari Winkler of the University of Washington with the 2015 Paul L. Busch Award during WEFTEC in Chicago, Ill. With the $100,000 prize, Winker seeks to improve water reclamation.

Winkler's proposed research applies what has been learned from certain marine microorganisms to a new process in wastewater treatment. Her research can potentially lead to better effluent quality, reduced operational costs, space reduction, and lower greenhouse gas emissions in wastewater treatment plants if compared to currently applied technologies.

In the last 20 years, microbiologists discovered two very important microorganisms involved in nitrogen cycling, such as in the oxygen minimum zones of the ocean. The first is Anaerobic Ammonia Oxidizing bacteria, or Anammox. The second is Ammonia Oxidizing Archaea (AOA). Winkler's inspiration is to use AOA in a new way -- in Anammox-based granular sludge.

Currently, Anammox and AOB are successfully used in sidestream systems for nitrogen removal, where high ammonia concentrations are present. However, their effectiveness in mainstream treatment may be limited, when the goal is to provide an effluent with low ammonia concentrations.

By growing AOA and Anammox in compact granules under conditions similar to the ocean's oxygen minimum zones, Winkler will test if low ammonia effluent concentrations can be achieved in the mainstream, while using minimal energy and carbon and preventing nitrate production from nitrite-oxidizing bacteria.

Award Selection Committee members were impressed with Winkler's past achievements. She received several prizes for her work, including the AEESP outstanding Ph.D. dissertation award, Huber Technology prize, Jaap van de Graaf award, B-IWA industry award, ISME-IWA Biocluster award, Rhurverband water award, and Marie Curie postdoctoral Fellowship.

Winkler joins a long list of extremely talented researchers dedicated to innovation in the water quality community who have received the Paul L. Busch Award. Each year, WERF recognizes an outstanding individual or team of individuals whose ongoing efforts contribute significantly to water quality research and its practical application in the water environment, with the prestigious award.

The award carries a $100,000 grant from the WERF Endowment for Innovation in Applied Water Quality Research to support and promote work that will bring new benefits to the water quality community (utilities, industries, environmental firms) and the water-using public they serve.

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