According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the number of pharmaceuticals prescribed or provided in the US is 4.6 billion at 2014. A large portion of these prescribed pharmaceuticals are excreted unchanged or as metabolites in the urine and feces, then treated by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). However, if such WWTPs are not equipped with highly advanced treatment processes that can treat these drugs, then these pharmaceuticals and metabolites will end up in the natural environment and endanger the aquatic ecosystem due to their toxicity and potential to induce the drug resistance. Currently, most of our WWTPs do not have such treatment processes due to its high cost. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that urine treatment before distributing to WWTPs would be an efficient way to reduce the harm of excreted pharmaceuticals.
My research is to develop an economically feasible solution to combat the challenge of drug removal from wastewater streams, by chemically degrading pharmaceutical agents in human urine using a sustainable iron-based reagent, Ferrate (Fe(VI)).
Direct Transformation of Treated Wastewater into Drinking Water
As a result of population growth, urbanization, and climate change, drinking water supplies have become stressed, and the chances of getting new drinking water source are getting extremely hard. One way to achieve this objective is to increase the water reuse by implementing direct potable reuse (DPR) of purified water in the existing water distribution system (e.g. wastewater effluent, surface water or lake water).
My research is to advance an alternative source for drinking water production from treated wastewater, utilizing a dual biological and chemical platform (Ozone-Biological Filtration), with the long-term goal of mitigating the growing crisis of limited natural water resource