University of Idaho students analyze prototype phosphorus removal system

Two University of Idaho undergraduate students are evaluating the performance of UI environmental chemist Greg Moller's patent-pending Blue PRO™ process as part of their Engineering Capstone Project. They will investigate how the system might be tweaked to increase its effectiveness in removing phosphorus from wastewater at the Hayden Wastewater Research Facility (HWRF) at the Hayden municipal wastewater treatment plant...

COEUR D'ALENE, ID, Feb. 21, 2006 -- Two University of Idaho (UI) undergraduate students are evaluating the performance of UI environmental chemist Greg Moller's patent-pending Blue PRO™ process as part of their Engineering Capstone Project. They will investigate how the system might be tweaked to increase its effectiveness in removing phosphorus from wastewater at the Hayden Wastewater Research Facility (HWRF) at the Hayden municipal wastewater treatment plant.

Seniors Angie Williamson and Todd Williamson, who are not related, began their analysis of the HWRF system in January. The analysis is being conducted in partnership with Blue Water Technologies, Inc., who has licensed the technology. A patent is pending through the Idaho Research Foundation. Moller's purification system dramatically reduces phosphorous levels in sewage and industrial waste, ultimately halting the growth of algae in rivers and streams. The process results in cleaner water, lower operating costs and more reliable operations for municipal waste processing facilities.

The Capstone project is directed by UI chemical engineering professor David Drown. Moller, UI chemical engineering professor Roger Korus and Blue Water's chief technology officer Remy Newcombe (Ph.D., civil engineering, '03), were instrumental in developing the process Blue Water is now implementing. They serve as technical resources for participating students.

The Blue PRO™ process employs reactive filtration. Chemically modified wastewater percolates through the sand bed and iron phosphate grows on the surface of the sand particles, removing the phosphorus from the water, diverting it into a filtered stream of iron phosphate solids.

The original technology is working better than predicted and is exceeding regulatory requirements. Initial pilot testing in 2004 at Moscow's wastewater treatment plant resulted in a greater than ten-fold phosphorus reduction, from 800 to 60 parts per billion. Data from the improved process, operating at a quarter of a million gallons per day in Hayden, has shown a stable thousand-fold reduction in phosphorus from 5 parts per million to 5 parts per billion. The process also removes arsenic form drinking water. The Hayden facility is the first in the nation to test the system's cost effectiveness in full scale, long term operation.

The student team is responsible for sampling, statistical testing and modeling of the HWRF prototype. The results of the Williamsons' project, and all other capstone projects, will be presented at the UI Engineering Design Expo, April 28 at the student union building, Moscow. For more Expo information call 1-888-884-3246, ext. 6183, or email: expo@uidaho.edu.

The College of Engineering's Senior Capstone Design program implements multiple, yearlong, real world industry projects, providing opportunity for education and industry networking for seniors.

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