Urban net-zero water treatment and mineralization: Experiments, modeling and design

James D. Englehardt, Tingting Wu, George Tchobanoglous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Water and wastewater treatment and conveyance account for approximately 4% of US electric consumption, with 80% used for conveyance. Net zero water (NZW) buildings would alleviate demands for a portion of this energy, for water, and for the treatment of drinking water for pesticides and toxic chemical releases in source water. However, domestic wastewater contains nitrogen loads much greater than urban/suburban ecosystems can typically absorb. The purpose of this work was to identify a first design of a denitrifying urban NZW treatment process, operating at ambient temperature and pressure and circum-neutral pH, and providing mineralization of pharmaceuticals (not easily regulated in terms of environmental half-life), based on laboratory tests and mass balance and kinetic modeling. The proposed treatment process is comprised of membrane bioreactor, iron-mediated aeration (IMA, reported previously), vacuum ultrafiltration, and peroxone advanced oxidation, with minor rainwater make-up and H2O2 disinfection residual. Similar to biological systems, minerals accumulate subject to precipitative removal by IMA, salt-free treatment, and minor dilution. Based on laboratory and modeling results, the system can produce potable water with moderate mineral content from commingled domestic wastewater and 10-20% rainwater make-up, under ambient conditions at individual buildings, while denitrifying and reducing chemical oxygen demand to below detection (<3mg/L). While economics appear competitive, further development and study of steady-state concentrations and sludge management options are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4680-4691
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambient
  • Direct potable reuse
  • Distributed
  • Iron-mediated aeration
  • Mineralize
  • Net-zero water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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