PI: Dr. Allan Feldman, Education

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Description: 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.