Bio4Edu Interns Spring 2020, Part 2

Wastewater Treatment Team 

University of South Carolina Aiken, Andrew Hutto, Bradley Jones, Savannah Lawson, and Michael Wilson 

Currently, Green Energy Biofuel plant in Aiken is not able to process the wastewater from their plant enough to be able to safely release it into the local sewer system.  The plant sends its wastewater to the wastewater processing plant in the tanker trucks, a process that is not meeting the sustainability goals of GEB.  The GEB Internship team at the University of South Carolina Aiken was working on designing a wastewater system for the plant that is cost-effective and safely processes the wastewater.

GEB wastewater interns 2020The Internship team in Aiken had the goal of helping GEB design and implement a new wastewater treatment process that would allow GEB to run wastewater down the drain instead of sending it to another facility to be treated.  Currently, it costs GEB around 20 cents per gallon to dispose of wastewater. The plan is to reduce this cost to 8 cents per gallon once the wastewater pretreatment process at the plant is operational. 

The team faced many challenges with this project; the biggest of which was trying to design a plan that works for the GEB plant in Aiken.  Customizing this plan required the team to research different wastewater treatment processes and to learn new skills and procedures like jar testing and the process of chemically dosing the wastewater.  After having designed a preliminary system and purchased lab equipment the team was stymied in their efforts by the COVID-19 shutdowns.  They were unable to finish their designs and implement a new system for GEB Aiken, but their hard work taught them about wastewater systems, project management, and professional communication.  They are most proud of having identified current issues in GEB’s process that would have been costly in the future if not fixed.