Most of the wastewater generated by industrial and domestic activities in the United States is treated using biological processes, which produces billions of pounds of waste sludge annually. Reclaiming wastewater to generate biofuels is one strategy that Agency scientists hope will ease the environmental impacts and treatment costs of wastewater streams.
A Regional Applied Research Effort project allowed EPA to collaborate with Mississippi State University to investigate the potential for using municipal wastewater in the production of biofuels. Using wastewater obtained from a Tuscaloosa, Alabama municipal wastewater treatment plant and working at laboratory-scale, researchers demonstrated that ozone disinfection is a robust and effective disinfectant for wastewater. Further, the studies showed that microorganisms capable of producing large quantities of oil can be grown in ozonated wastewater.
The results of this project provided valuable input for current pilot-scale testing at the Mississippi State University Energy Institute. Wastewater from various municipalities and industries will be tested for oil accumulation to ultimately produce biofuels from the oils.