- Project Details:
|Enhanced Separation and Sludge Refinery for Wastewater Treatment – Solving the Nexus of Pollution Control and Resource Recovery in Mega Cities
|Professor Xiao-yan LI
|The University of Hong Kong
|The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
City University of Hong Kong
|Most core wastewater treatment technologies were developed more than half a century ago and thus they are no longer capable of accommodating the fast population growth, industrialization and urbanization. Removal of pollutants in wastewater treatment is not only difficult and costly, but also produces a large amount of sludge. Disposal of sewage sludge is one of the most challenging and expensive environmental problems for large cities. On the other hand, major pollutants (organics and nutrients) in wastewater are valuable resources that should be recovered instead of being degraded or wasted with the sludge.
In this project, novel technologies, namely Enhanced Separation and Sludge Refinery (ESSR), has been developed for advanced wastewater treatment, together with effective resource recovery. The theme-based research includes three programmes: (a) Chemic allyenhanced Membrane Filtration (CeMF) and side-stream Acidogenic sludge and food waste CoFermentation (sACF) for Phosphorus and organic capture and recovery; (b) treatment of the waste sludge by thermal Sludge Hydrolysis followed by fungal Fermentation and Refiner y (SHFR) for waste minimization and resource recover y; and (c) integration of the novel ESSR modules for advanced wastewater treatment. The technological development achieved in this project will fundamentally transform wastewater treatment from an end-of-the-pipe purification process to a resource-mining practice for value-added products including fertilizers, organic acids, ethanol and bio-fibers. Towards the end, the innovative system will set an example with its both environmental and economic benefits for sustainable water pollution control in mega cities.
- Research Impact
|The novel wastewater treatment system developed in this project can effectively remove pollutants and recover valuable resources such as phosphorus and organics. In the long term, the novel wastewater treatment system will contribute to the advancement of waste-to-resource technologies and can be applied in Hong Kong and elsewhere to update existing wastewater treatment facilities. Due to such significance, the TRS project team was invited to publish a thematic issue in HKIE Transactions, “Theme Issue on Sustainable Wastewater Technologies for Pollution Control and Resource Recovery” (June 2019, https://doi.org/10.33430/V26N2). Moreover, in March 2020, HKU publicized research findings of the project via a press release, and a number of local newspapers and international digital media reported our impactful research work. Besides, two patents of innovative filtration materials developed by the project team have been licensed to the industry for IP transfer and commercialization.