This PIRE (Partnerships in International Research and Education) project addresses integrated water and energy systems fundamental to social, economic, and environmental well-being and prosperity. The project seeks to merge water and energy concerns with appropriate cultural models of local knowledge, institutions, and resource limits. It also seeks to initiate a cultural shift in individual and university research and education programs by developing international research competence and building capacity through global partnerships. Engineering systems will be adapted to environmental and cultural changes associated with growth in human populations, urbanization, and resource consumption by focusing on the interstices of geographical context, cultural analysis, and how the scale of implementation of a solution impacts results. The overarching research question is: can effective, geographically-appropriate, and culturally relevant engineered systems be established that utilize wastewater as a resource for recovery of energy, water, and nutrients.
The project will be carried out by a team of researchers from engineering, anthropology, marine science, and science education to enable a new integrated, interdisciplinary model in context sensitive implementation of synergistic water-energy systems. Their combined expertise and perspective will be applied to explore the viability of two technologies to manage wastewater: anaerobic digestion and algal-based resource recovery. Two specific research tasks address advancing the methods and materials involved in the technologies themselves, and steps needed to be taken to protect human health; two other tasks explore these technologies in the context of geographical location and environmental impacts; and the remaining two tasks focus on comprehensive systems research across social, economic, and environmental domains through life cycle assessment and systems dynamics modeling.
The project will involve academic partners from Europe (U.K., The Netherlands, Czech Republic) and the Caribbean Basin (U.S. Virgin Islands, Belize, Mexico), providing a range of expertise in technological innovation, cultural histories, and geographic locations, in order to address integrated resource management challenges due to differences of scale, political will, environmental worldview, level of interest, and financial constraint. Caribbean Basin partners will provide opportunities to investigate deployment and sustainability of technology and management strategies that take place at different stages of economic development and population density. The three European partners are located in areas with examples of integrated resource recovery, allowing the team to develop solutions where water and energy infrastructure are highly developed and serve higher population densities.
These education and research partnerships will create an international team of at least 40 undergraduate and 60 graduate students, 4 postdoctoral research associates, and 31 faculty members, who will immerse themselves in issues of national and global importance. The application of research to international locations will provide social, economic, and environmental contrast for students and early career researchers. The educational activities will help develop global competency and knowledge of sustainable systems, and provide participants with opportunities to participate in international partnerships. Education and research opportunities are also provided to students from the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), a historically black university with BS programs in math and basic and environmental science, but limited research opportunities. A collaborative undergraduate program with UVI will broaden access of under-represented minority students to career opportunities in engineering, and provide a dual degree option and opportunities for student research. In addition, existing and planned Peace Corps graduate school partnerships will utilize the Peace Corps? unique training in language, culture, participatory approaches to community assessment, and sustainable development to build global competency.
This project is jointly funded by NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering, and the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems Division in the Engineering Directorate. The project is funded by NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) through the PIRE.
PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH
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Wells, E.C., Zarger, R.K., Whiteford, L.M., Cairns, M.R., & Koenig, E.S.. "The impacts of tourism development on perceptions and practices of sustainable wastewater management on the Placencia Peninsula, Belize.," Research Reports in Belizean History and Anthropology, v.2, 2014, p. 123.
Verbyla, M.E., & Mihelcic, J.R.. "A review of virus removal in wastewater treatment," Water Research, v.71, 2015, p. 107.
Naughton, C.C, Lovett, P.N., & Mihelcic, J.R.. "Land suitability modeling of shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) distribution across sub-Saharan Africa," Applied Geography, v.58, 2015, p. 217.
Manser, N.D., Wald, I., Ergas, S.J., Izurieta, R., & Mihelcic, J.R.. "Assessing the fate of Ascaris suum ova during mesophilic anaerobic digestion," Environmental Science & Technology, v.49, 2015, p. 3128.
Cornejo, P., Zhang, Q., Mihelcic, J.R.. "Quantifying Benefits of Resource Recovery from Sanitation Provision in a Developing World Setting," Journal of Environmental Management, v.131, 2014, p. 7.
Cornejo, P., Zhang, Q., & Mihelcic, J.R.. "Quantifying benefits of resource recovery from sanitation provision in a developing world setting," Journal of Environmental Management, v.131, 2013, p. 7.
Manser, N., Mihelcic, J.R., & Ergas, S.J.. "Semi-continuous mesophilic anaerobic digester performance under variations in solids retention time and feeding frequency," Bioresource Technology, v.190, 2015, p. 359.
Kinyua, M.N., Cunningham, J., Ergas, S.J.. "Effect of Solids Retention Time on the Bioavailability of Organic Carbon in Anaerobically Digested Swine Waste," Bioresource Technology, v.162, 2014, p. 14.
Kinyua, M.N., Cunningham, J., & Ergas, S.J.. "Effect of solids retention time on the bioavailability of organic carbon in anaerobically digested swine waste," Bioresource Technology, v.162, 2014, p. 14.
Krayzelova, L., Lynn, T.J., Banihani, Q., Bartacek, J., Jenicek, P., Ergas, S.J. "A Tire-Sulfur Hybrid Adsorption Denitrification (T-SHAD) Process for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment," Water Research, v.61, 2014, p. 191.
Krayzelova, L., Lynn, T.J., Banihani, Q., Bartacek, J., Jenicek, P., & Ergas, S.J.. "A Tire-Sulfur Hybrid Adsorption Denitrification (T-SHAD) process for decentralized wastewater treatment," Water Research, v.61, 2014, p. 191.
Naughton, C.C, Sissoko H.T, and Mihelcic, J.R.. "Assessing factors that lead to usage of appropriate technology handwashing stations in Mali, West Africa," Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, v.5, 2015, p. 279.
Verbyla, M.E., Oakley, S.M., Iriarte, M., Lizima, L., Zhang, J., Tejada-Martinez, A.E., Mihelcic, J.R.. "Taenia eggs in a stabilization pond system with poor hydraulics: Concern for human cysticercosis?," Water Science & Technology, v.68, 2014, p. 2698.
Verbyla, M.E., Oakley, S.M., Iriarte, M., Lizima, L., Zhang, J., Tejada-Martinez, A.E., & Mihelcic, J.R.. "Taenia eggs in a stabilization pond system with poor hydraulics: Concern for human cysticercosis?," Water Science & Technology, v.68, 2013, p. 2698.
Méndez-Lázaro P., Muller-Karger, F.E., Otis D., McCarthy, M.J., & Peña-Orellana, M.. "Assessing climate variability effects on dengue incidence in San Juan, Puerto Rico," International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,, v.11, 2015, p. 9409.
Verbyla, M.E., Oakley, S.M., Mihelcic, J.R.. "Wastewater infrastructure for small cities in an urbanizing world: Integrating the protection of human health and the environment with resource recovery and food security," Environmental Science & Technology, v.47, 2013, p. 3598.
Verbyla, M.E., Oakley, S.M., & Mihelcic, J.R.. "Wastewater infrastructure for small cities in an urbanizing world: Integrating the protection of human health and the environment with resource recovery and food security.," Environmental Science & Technology, v.47, 2013, p. 3598.
Symonds, E.M., Verbyla, M.E., Kafle, R.C., Lukasik, J.O., Breitbart, M., Mihelcic, J.R.. "A case study of enteric virus removal and insights into the associated risk of water reuse for two wastewater treatment pond systems in Bolivia," Water Research, v.65, 2014, p. 257.
Verbyla, M.E., S.M. Oakley, J.R. Mihelcic. "Wastewater infrastructure for small cities in an urbanizing world: Integrating the protection of human health and the environment with resource recovery and food security," Environmental Science & Technology, v.47, 2013, p. 3598.