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A Small Scale Design And Build Project In Biochemical Treatment

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Curricula I

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.114.1 - 12.114.10



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Paper Authors

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Michael Butkus U.S. Military Academy

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Small-Scale Design and Build Project in Biochemical Treatment


Environmental engineers as well as engineers in other engineering disciplines, apply their skills in a dynamic environment where single solutions are the exception rather than the rule. Additional “significant experiences” are required to help students develop a holistic appreciation for professional practice issues and including open ended problem solving to prepare them for the workplace.1 Such experiences should relate course material to professional practice, be commensurate with a student’s skill level according to their progression through a curriculum, and should be perceived by students as reinforcing rather than redundant.2 Design and build are valuable experiences that enhance an undergraduate education.3-5 Evaluating the constructability of a design can be an important aspect of the hands-on experience.5,6 Lack of consideration for constructability has been noted as a common shortcoming among engineering graduates.6 In addition, real-world projects can be rewarding experiences for students.3,7

The Design Problem

A design and build project was integrated into a biochemical treatment course, taught to first semester seniors at the United States Military Academy. This course builds on the concepts learned in Environmental Biological Systems, a course taught to juniors during the spring semester (see Ref 8), and directly applies those concepts to the treatment of wastewater, removal of nutrients from wastewater, anaerobic digestion, bioremediation, industrial waste treatment, and emerging applications of biological treatment and modeling.

Two groups of students designed and built two laboratory experiments that can be used to educate students who take the course during subsequent semesters. Group I designed and built an attached growth (trickling filter) wastewater treatment system for a fish tank. Group II designed and build a rotating biological contactor (RBC) wastewater treatment system for a fish tank. A detailed design report and laboratory manual was submitted for grade with each experimental apparatus. The design report explained the theoretical underpinnings of the experiment as well as details on the construction of the apparatus. The lab manual included a detailed experimental protocol for student experiments with questions for a follow-on lab report to be written by students next semester.

Design constraints (the extent to which the design is open ended)

• Each group was provided with a 15 gallon fish tank and either a trickling filter (Eheim, Ecco 2232) or RBC (Marineland, Emperor Biowheel 280). These filters are designed for use with fish tanks. • The system was required to be plumbed so that flow rate through the filter may be varied during the experiment by controlling recirculation and/or bypass. • Hydraulic and organic loading rates had to be consistent with values reported in the students’ text9 • The system was to be designed such that nitrification and BOD removal efficiency could be quantified.

Butkus, M. (2007, June), A Small Scale Design And Build Project In Biochemical Treatment Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2111

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