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The National Academies
500 5th St NW - KWS 502
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 334-2800
Fax: (202) 334-2139
Phase 4 (2009 Deadline)
Small Scale Sewage Treatment and Wastewater Reuse System for Pakistan
Pakistani PI Dr. Safia Ahmed, Co-PI Dr. Naeem Ali, and students on the project (photo courtesy of Dr. Rumana Riffat.)
Rumana Riffat, The George Washington University
Safia Ahmed and Naeem Ali, Quaid-i-Azam University
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $202,986
US Funding (Department of State): $122,175
Project Dates: November 15, 2010 - November 14, 2013 (Extended through March 30, 2014)
According to a World Bank report, Pakistan is among 17 countries that may face severe water shortages by 2025. Per capita water availability has dropped dramatically over the past 60 years and could fall to less than 1000 cubic meters by 2012. Reuse of wastewater following proper treatment would be one option for reducing the water shortage. This project addresses two basic problems—improper sewage disposal and water scarcity—with the overall objective being to develop an efficient method for the treatment of sewage and reuse of wastewater and biosolids. If successful, the major outcome would be the development of a sewage treatment system applicable to a small community, with its output consisting of reusable water and biosolids for use as fertilizer. During the project, researchers from George Washington University (GWU) will provide technical expertise in the development and planning of the sewage treatment systems, and researchers from Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) will be trained in the treatment technologies and implement the projects in Pakistan. Led on both sides by female principal investigators, this collaboration will improve the quality and capacity of research and education at QAU in the water and sanitation area and should result in a technology that will contribute to improved public health.
The overall objective of this research was to develop a sustainable wastewater treatment and reuse system for Pakistan. Four treatment systems were evaluated. They were: trickling filter, constructed wetland, dual digestion system and membrane process. In the first year, a number of these processes were setup in the laboratory, at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Pakistan, and at George Washington University (GWU), USA.
During the last year, pilot scale trickling filter and anaerobic digester was setup at QAU, to evaluate wastewater and sludge treatment on a larger scale. The systems were constructed using local materials. Trickling filter media consisted of stones obtained from a nearby location. Based on the results from laboratory scale wetlands, a full scale constructed wetland has been designe
Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Riffat visiting the pilot scale Trickling Filter system at new outdoor laboratory at QAU in January 2013.
d and completed at QAU to treat the wastewater from the men’s hostel. The effect of various parameters on the operation and efficiency of removal of various pollutants is being evaluated.
A temperature phased anaerobic digestion (TPAD) system was setup in the laboratory at GWU, consisting of a 45oC digester followed by a 35oC digester. Usually in a TPAD system, the first digester is heated to 55oC to achieve pathogen destruction. Based on our preliminary laboratory studies, we observed excellent pathogen destruction at the lower temperature of 45oC. As a result, it was decided to setup and evaluate a TPAD system as mentioned above. The goal is to produce biosolids that can be reused as fertilizer for crop production. A forward osmosis-membrane distillation system was also setup at GWU laboratory. Pollutant removal from wastewater was evaluated, along with membrane fouling and cleaning methods. Fouling of membranes is a disadvantage of membrane processes. The forward osmosis membrane exhibited low fouling potential and high cleaning efficiency.
In Pakistan, the project was integrated with Nano-Biosolutions Pvt. Ltd in Islamabad for wetland construction at full scale. Collaborations have been developed with ORIC QAU, Islamabad in order to commercialize these wastewater treatment technologies. Four PhD students are currently working on the research project. Five M. Phil students have completed their degrees and there are in progress. The project also involved four lab assistants who have received training in analytical methods for wastewater analysis. One Pakistani doctoral student Amber Hameed started her training in the GWU lab in September 2013. She is conducting research on operation and analytical measurements of anaerobic digesters. On the US side, two PhD students, one masters student, and one undergraduate student are conducting research on the project. Results from this project have been incorporated into two courses taught by Dr. Riffat at GWU.
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2011 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Seminar on Forward Osmosis Membrane Reactor held on September 9, 2011 at GWU in Washington, DC. From left to right are: doctoral student Taqsim Husnain, PI Dr. Riffat, and PI Dr. Ahmed. (photo courtesy of Dr. Rumana Riffat)
Dr. Ahmed and her group at QAU (including three PhD students, two M.Phil. students, and three lab assistants) conducted lab-scale trickling filter, constructed wetland, and dual digestion system experiments to determine the efficiency of various means of waste treatment and pathogen removal. In addition to the students currently involved, two other M.Phil. students at QAU completed their degree work in 2011 as part of this project, and Dr. Ahmed reports that the collaboration has also led to improvements in the curricula for four related graduate-level courses at her university. She and her team have also met with officials from the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency and the Capital Development Authority to exchange information and consult regarding data analysis on the project. Meanwhile, on the U.S. side, Dr. Riffat’s PhD student has set up and is operating two anaerobic digesters fed by wastewater from Washington’s Blue Plains treatment plant. Dr. Riffat and the student will continue working to evaluate the effects of various parameters on the digester. They will also continue operating their membrane bio-reactor to assess the impacts of various environmental factors on its efficiency in removing pollutants. During the summer of 2011, they hosted Dr. Ahmed (August-September) and her co-PI Dr. Naeem Ali (July-August) for training on how to set up and operate a similar membrane reactor system back home in Islamabad. During their stay, the visitors took part in a workshop and two seminars at GWU. Additional visits in both directions are planned in 2012 as the experimental work continues. A workshop on wastewater treatment will take place at QAU in 2012. Training of Pakistani PIs in setup of digestion systems will be arranged. In the coming months, the team will also complete the site selection for installation of their planned pilot treatment plant and will conduct a feasibility study for the treatment technologies at field scale.
2012 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Dr. Ahmed and her group at QAU (including three PhD scholars and four M.Phil students) have spent the past months conducting further research to evaluate and optimize three different wastewater treatment systems: a trickling filtration system, a constructed wetland system, and a dual digestion system. Although results from the experiments have been promising, further improvements are needed to ensure that these treatment strategies perform efficiently at experimental sites to be selected for the treatment of domestic wastewater at QAU. During 2012 Dr. Ahmed and her team will continue their lab-scale experiments on treatment system efficiency and will construct a field-scale wetland to expand work they previously carried out in the lab. The site for the constructed wetland has been selected and the initial site survey completed. The QAU researchers also plan to construct pilot-scale trickling filters, taking into account their initial lab findings that stone materials have proven better to be better support materials than plastic in terms of preventing the development of biofilms.
Meanwhile, on the U.S. side, two PhD students continue working with Dr. Riffat to evaluate the effects of various parameters on the anaerobic digester and membrane bioreactors that they are testing in their lab. They are currently studying how various factors affect the ability of these systems to remove pollutants efficiently.
The US PI Dr. Riffat visited Quaid-i-Azam University(QAU) in Islamabad, Pakistan, from May 15-21, 2012. During her visit, the QAU Microbiology Department conducted a one day international seminar “Wastewater Treatment and its Resuse” with over 100 attendees from Islamabad, Rawalpindi and nearby areas. Also, a half day training session was conducted for the graduate students from the department. Dr. Riffat also met with the Pakistani researchers, visited the laboratories and experimental set ups, and conducted a site visit.
On the Pakistani side, the team is completing the construction of a pilot scale trickling filter and conducting research on design of membrane reactors. In the next few months, they will continue laboratory scale studies and start up the pilot scale trickling filter.
On the US side, two PhD students continue working on this project. A second set of membrane reactors is being constructed to investigate fouling mechanisms. In the next months, the team will host a female graduate student from QAU at GWU’s lab for training in membrane applications and anaerobic digestion. The US team will continue the evaluation of various parameters on pollutant removal efficiency of the anaerobic digestion system and membrane filtration system.
2013 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Dr. Ahmed and her group at QAU (including three PhD students, four M.Phil students) have spent the past months conducting further research to evaluate and optimize three different wastewater treatment systems: a trickling filtration system, a constructed wetland system, and a dual digestion system. Two systems are pilot scale – the trickling filtration system and the anaerobic digester- with both systems operational. The third system is a full-scale constructed wetlands developed onsite at QAU in coordination with a Pakistani biotechnology company, Nano-Biosolutions, to treat wastewater from a nearby women’s hostel. The wetlands is designed using naturally available materials such as rocks, gravel, a series of collecting ponds, and water plants i.e. duckweed to filter and remove waste from the water.
Meanwhile, on the U.S. side, two PhD students (from the Philippines and Malaysia) continue working with Dr. Riffat to evaluate the effects of various parameters on the anaerobic digester and membrane bioreactors that they are testing in their lab. They are currently studying how various factors affect the ability of these systems to remove pollutants efficiently.
This project was one of seven projects highlighted for its commercialization potential and links with a commercial company - Nano-Biosolutions at the First Pakistan-U.S. Symposium on Technology Transfer held in Islamabad on January 31 – February 1, 2013. While in Islamabad, Dr. Riffat visited QAU to continue discussion of project progress with Dr. Ahmed and her staff who also hosted NAS, DOS, and USAID visitors to her facility and the wetlands. In late summer/fall, Dr. Ahmed and co-PI Dr. Naeem Ali will visit GWU for one month with a graduate student from QAU expected sometime this summer.