June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.1400.1 - 11.1400.6
Using Phosphorus Recovery from Wastewater as a Context for Teaching Sustainable Development with USEPA P3 Support Abstract
Phosphorus is an essential element required for agriculture. Current practices include “one-way” use of phosphorus: that is mining; production of fertilizer; land application; and ultimately loss to aquatic sediments. Once in the aquatic environment, phosphorus stimulates eutrophication resulting in the “death” of water bodies. With financial support from a People, Prosperity, and Planet program grant of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an interdisciplinary team of faculty at the University of Cincinnati used phosphorus recovery from sewage and re-utilization as a struvite fertilizer as the context for a year-long course of study integrating graduate and undergraduate students in Environmental Engineering and Science as well as Environmental Studies. This presentation will highlight the original course format, results of student assessment from the 2004-2005 academic year, modifications incorporated for the 2005-2006 academic year, and the subsequent findings of student perceptions and learning. The challenge of integrating across two colleges within a comprehensive university system will be discussed, and our approaches for meeting the learning needs and course expectations of a diverse student population will be included.
Environmental policy-makers, ecologists and engineers have been dealing with the problem of soluble bioavailable phosphorus as a component of wastewater since the 1960s. Originally cited as the cause of eutrophication of drinking water reservoirs in South Africa, the increased use of phosphorus-based detergents and industrial chemicals ultimately lead to a dramatic deterioration of the quality of fresh water bodies in the United States, including the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. To combat phosphorus pollution, stringent controls were put in place to limit phosphorus use in commercial chemicals. Nevertheless, phosphorus pollution remains a significant problem because: (i) phosphorus is used as a fertilizer to encourage intensive agricultural practice; and (ii) phosphorus is released in excrement in the form of sewage. A comparison of agricultural phosphorus use published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with phosphorus discharge from municipal sewage calculated from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data indicates that approximately 10% of the phosphorus released to the environment is from sewage while 90% is from agriculture.1 Thus, while the discharge of phosphorus from agriculture is the most significant contributor to eutrophication, phosphorus recovery from sewage represents a significant opportunity to increase the sustainability of the phosphorus nutrient cycle.
Because phosphorus discharge to the environment represents a significant concern; and because solutions to environmental discharges of phosphorus require technical as well as policy efforts the topic was selected to serve as the theme for a People, Prosperity, and the Plant (P3) grant from the U.S. EPA. The objective of the P3 program is to provide seed funds for teams of faculty and students to tackle complex, globally relevant environmental challenges in the context of sustainable development. Because phosphorus is a growth limiting nutrient required for intensive agriculture, and because discharge of excess phosphorus stimulate severe
Oerther, D., & Carlarne, C., & Maurer, E., & Lamendella, R., & Pumphrey, S. (2006, June), Using Phosphorus Recovery From Wastewater As A Context For Teaching Sustainable Development With Usepa P3 Support Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--60
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