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Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program                                                            
Phase 4 (2009 Deadline)

Small Scale Sewage Treatment and Wastewater Reuse System for Pakistan 

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)
Project Overview
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.
Quarterly Update
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 designed 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.
Progress Reports

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