EAST LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan State University researcher is using a $1.92 million Department of Defense grant to develop a portable wastewater treatment system that could improve the military’s efficiency.
The solar-bio-nano project, which is being spearheaded by Wei Liao, an MSU assistant professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, also will generate energy and produce drinking water, thus providing a potential blueprint for the future of municipal/agricultural wastewater treatment systems.
During military operations, shipping from port to bases on or near the front lines can push the cost of water up to nearly $60 per gallon. A portable, self-sustaining system would allow the bases to be more nimble and cost-effective, Liao said.
“Bases on or near the front lines could transport this small-scale system by semi-truck and will greatly reduce their demand for water and fuel,” he said. “The integrated system can serve about 600 people, is patentable and hopefully can be scaled up to serve larger populations.”
The integrated system will comprise three major components. First, the solar unit will use new materials and employ a novel configuration making it up to 80 percent lighter than traditional solar units. Second, biological conversion processes will break down wastewater and food scraps to produce methane that can be used as fuel. Finally, a nano-filtration system will then take the discharge from the biological processes to provide drinking water.
Liao’s project was one of 32 initiatives funded by the DoD’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program.
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
Contact: Layne Cameron email@example.com University Relations, Office: 517-353-8819 , Cell: (765) 748-4827, Michigan State University Wei Liao, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Office: (517) 432-7205, firstname.lastname@example.org