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Water Treatment and Distribution

  • Novel adsorbents for recovery of N and P from poultry litter

    With the increasing economic contribution of poultry farming in agriculture, pollution caused by mismanaged chicken manure disposal is a growing problem in the state of Oklahoma. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in chicken manure is a non-point pollution which contributes to aquifer contamination (e.g. algae bloom) and surface water pollution on a broader scale. We use naturally abundant materials to process inexpensive novel adsorbents for recovery of N and P in poultry farms. Optimizing composition of the adsorbents, the removal efficiencies of P and N from poultry farming wastes can be maximized. Success in this research will (a) Allow the chicken farmers to enhance poultry production, (b) Improve health of chicken in poultry farms, (c) Reduce energy wastage, (d) Increase revenue and profits for poultry farmers, and (e) Facilitate “green” and environmentally sustainable operation of poultry farms.  Subsequent studies will focus on harvesting the adsorbed N and P for other applications in industry and agriculture. This research has the potential to catalyze a new “rural” industry based on value added products from agricultural waste.

  • Design of high efficiency electrocoagulation systems for produced water treatment

    Electrocoagulation is an electrochemical process that is used to remove contaminants from polluted water. The process has been heavily used in the textile industry, but the application of the process to produced water from oil and gas wells is relatively new. One challenge with electrocoagulation is the formation of a passivated layer on the surface of the cathode which can drastically slow or practically stop the coagulation (and flocculation) process. Our group is developing novel, high surface area anodes and cathodes that can be rapidly regenerated, prevent passivated scale formations on the surface of the cathodes and enable the efficient and inexpensive decontamination of produced water. By optimizing the water quality parameters,  reduction in salt concentrations will also be achievable. This project promises a technological breakthrough for the electrocoagulation technology, resulting in significant improvement in the efficiency of for produced water treatment process. It will be applicable widely, even for waste waters, and not be limited to produced water treatment. Based on literature reports, it is anticipated that electrocoagulation treated produced water will be suitable for reverse osmosis treatment, i.e. will have total dissolved solids concentration <1000 ppm.

  • Low-cost ceramic membranes with controlled porosity

    Membrane filtration, which relies on the pore size to separate contaminants, is promising for produced water treatment. Commercial polymeric membranes are not suitable for produced water treatment due to their substantial maintenance and operation costs. Ceramic membranes promise several advantages, including longer membrane life, high mechanical strength, superior chemical compatibility, and reduced process residuals.


    This research aims to develop low-cost ceramic membrane technology for produced water treatment. The proposed ceramic membranes will be processed using naturally abundant materials and inexpensive processing. Through these membranes, it will be possible to remove oil, suspended solids, pesticides, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, microbes, and trace metals from produced water, and it will also reduce the total dissolved solids to <3000 ppm.


    The low-cost and effective produced water treatment enabled through this research could transform produced water to near fresh water levels suitable for power generation (cooling), industrial use (including oil & gas), agriculture, along with the potential to be discharged for aquifer recharge; thereby making produced water an added benefit rather than a liability.

  •  Drinking water distribution systems

    In the US, water comes out of the tap, clean and ready to use. However, the aging drinking water distribution systems, particularly in large cities, are prone to uncontrolled changes in water quality during transport through old and corroded metal pipes. The water quality changes in distribution systems can pose health risks as well as render the water unfit for human consumption.  Our research has focused on understanding different aspects of the drinking water distribution systems, such as the interrelationship between iron corrosion scales and water quality in old drinking water distribution pipes, the effect of water treatment practices on drinking water distribution, and on assessment of inorganic's accumulation in drinking water distribution system.


    Our group specializes in quantitative characterization of the composition (elemental and crystalline phase) and microstructure of corrosion scales and deposits formed in drinking water distribution pipelines including cast iron/steel pipes, lead pipes, copper pipes, as well as in cement mortar pipes.

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