Mineralizing urban net-zero water treatment: Field experience for energy-positive water management

Tingting Wu, James D. Englehardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


An urban net-zero water treatment system, designed for energy-positive water management, 100% recycle of comingled black/grey water to drinking water standards, and mineralization of hormones and other organics, without production of concentrate, was constructed and operated for two years, serving an occupied four-bedroom, four-bath university residence hall apartment. The system comprised septic tank, denitrifying membrane bioreactor (MBR), iron-mediated aeration (IMA) reactor, vacuum ultrafilter, and peroxone or UV/H2O2 advanced oxidation, with 14% rainwater make-up and concomitant discharge of 14% of treated water (ultimately for reuse in irrigation). Chemical oxygen demand was reduced to 12.9 ± 3.7 mg/L by MBR and further decreased to below the detection limit (<0.7 mg/L) by IMA and advanced oxidation treatment. The process produced a mineral water meeting 115 of 115 Florida drinking water standards that, after 10 months of recycle operation with ∼14% rainwater make-up, had a total dissolved solids of ∼500 mg/L, pH 7.8 ± 0.4, turbidity 0.12 ± 0.06 NTU, and NO3-N concentration 3.0 ± 1.0 mg/L. None of 97 hormones, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals analyzed were detected in the product water. For a typical single-home system with full occupancy, sludge pumping is projected on a 12–24 month cycle. Operational aspects, including disinfection requirements, pH evolution through the process, mineral control, advanced oxidation by-products, and applicability of point-of-use filters, are discussed. A distributed, peroxone-based NZW management system is projected to save more energy than is consumed in treatment, due largely to retention of wastewater thermal energy. Recommendations regarding design and operation are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-363
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Advanced oxidation
  • Direct potable reuse
  • Energy
  • Mineralization
  • Net zero water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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