Project to reduce wastewater by 90 percent

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Christopher Carter

A group of 18 undergraduate engineering students will be participating in a final-year capstone project. The project is sponsored by the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center. 

They will work in teams to find solutions to industrial problems. One team will have to come up with a plan to reduce water usage through wastewater management. The other team will have to find a way to measure performance of materials produced at the Herty Center. 

The Herty Center will provide all the resources necessary for the project. The project is required for graduation and is meant to show the student’s capability as engineers. It requires process design, technology selection and practical matters, like budget constraints. All while working to solve real world problems like wastewater management.

Wastewater management takes up $600 billion a year. Water scarcity is a huge problem in the world. One-fifth of the world’s population being affected and another 1.6 billion having limited access due to economic reasons according to the United Nations. The problem has come closer to home with the western United States and the recent drought.

This team of students will develop a system that will recover and reuse 90 percent of the water used at the center. They must choose technology that will clean the wastewater so it can be reused. The technology must also be cost-effective. The technologies being considered are nanofiltration and reverse osmosis or forward osmosis. The forward osmosis system is very promising with its low operation cost and effectiveness. 

The Herty Center was established in 1938 as a state authority and became a part of Georgia Southern in 2012 on the order of Nathan Deal. It is now an applied research center providing graduate and undergraduate students like these with opportunities to get real world experience.