Targeted Collaborative Research

Taking WE&RF's Cooperative Approach to the Next Level

WE&RF's targeted collaborative research (TCR) takes our cooperative approach to the next level by supporting effective partnerships among subscribers. The TCR process gives subscribers the unique opportunity to identify, underwrite and fast-track emerging research topics. Without this creative funding scheme, some new and high priority research would not gain traction and the leverage necessary to move forward. TCR efforts can be initiated in two ways:

  1. Organizations suggest new research and WE&RF works to find other partners willing to fund the project.
  2. Organizations identify existing research in which they wish to participate as a test site.

TCR Efforts Seeking Partners

LIFT for Management: Developing Utility Analysis and Improvement Methodology (LIFT16T16)

The purpose of this project is to develop a business reference model and information clearinghouse for the water industry that is complimentary to the existing foundational programs on Utility Management. LIFT for Utility Management will build on Effective Utility Management (EUM), Utility of the Future, and previous WE&RF research on management and decision support systems. Each of these programs effectively portrays "what" is important for a sustainable utility. This research and the business process reference model approach support the "how" phase of business improvement, the often elusive ability to execute and deliver results toward the characteristics of effective utilities that existing research has so well defined. 

The project will develop a hierarchical map of business processes, and expand to include the role of people (organization) and technology. The methodology and the conceptual model will help the industry understand how things get done within a utility and, when used together, allow utilities to understand and analyze the current state of their performance and plan/design/evaluate future improvements.

Electron Beam Enhanced Anaerobic Digestion (eBEAD)

Preliminary data shows that electron beam (eBeam) technology can increase methane production and sludge dewaterability and reduce sludge viscosity, resulting in increased digester sludge loading rates and reduced sludge residence times.  Technological improvements in the last 10 years have increased the availability and reliability of high-energy linear eBeam accelerators that are capable of municipal biosolids treatment. They have a small footprint and reduced capital cost, making this a viable technology for enhanced anaerobic digestion. Cost data shows that this technology is most cost-effective for larger facilities that treat greater than 100 million gallons per day (mgd).

This goal of this project is to evaluate the applicability of high-energy eBeam technology to hydrolyze sewage sludge for enhanced biogas production. Specifically, researchers will identify the influence of eBeam dose and solids content on methane gas production, as well as examine the chemical and biological properties of sludges processed with the eBeam technology to identify by-products that have high commercial value. The City of Dallas has provided funding to initiate the project and Texas A&M University is providing significant cost-share to support the research. WE&RF is seeking other organizations that are interested in committing funds to support this research project. To learn more, please contact Allison Deines at or by phone at 571-384-2116.

Use of BioElectro Technology to Convert Class B Biosolids Processes to Class A

The cost to convert aerobically digested solids to a Class A biosolids process is often prohibitive, particularly at small to mid-size facilities where there is a limited resale market. BioElectro provides the potential to retrofit existing aerobic digesters to achieve a Class A biosolids through disinfection and thermophilic digestion without increasing the existing digestion volume. Bench-scale studies have shown that the process would require small batch or continuous flow tank (due to short retention time) prior to existing digesters, with a system of electrodes supplied with a low DC voltage gradient. The existing WAS feed can be diverted prior to digesters or a portion of existing digesters can be utilized. The process can be cost effective for smaller utilities because of the low construction costs, the potential to reduce existing digester volumes, and changes to sludge properties that improve dewatering and reduce operational costs.
The goal of this project is to further refine and establish the economic viability of the BioElectro technology as a pre-treatment process to existing aerobic digestion facilities. At two progressively larger scales, this project will help to: i) refine electrode requirements, ii) establish chemical additives and dosing, iii) refine electrical contact time, and iv) assess impacts on biosolids dewatering. To learn more about this project, please contact Allison Deines, or by phone at 571-384-2116.

High-Tech Analysis of Low-Tech Methods for Sustainable Class A Biosolids Production

Biosolids, a nutrient-rich product that results from the treatment of domestic wastewater, is a sustainable product and can be applied as a fertilizer if it meets stringent federal and state rules. This project will support facilities in the U.S. by measuring and standardizing methods to predict pathogen reduction – giving facility managers and regulators more confidence in the design and operations of low-tech systems to meet federal and state guidelines for Class A designation. 

The research will sample biosolids treated with different low-tech technologies to quantify pathogen reduction and inactivation under a variety of climatic conditions. Data collected will be used to develop a quantitative and predictive tool for design and operation of these processes. Using this tool, engineers, operators, and regulators will be able to predict pathogen and indicator organism (PIO) die-off kinetics based on known plant operating and climate data. Those kinetics can then be used to predict the storage time necessary to achieve the PIO reductions required for Class A performance at the given conditions. 

The study will be performed by a team at Michigan Technological University. WE&RF has partnered with equipment manufacturer Lystek International, Inc. and is organizing a larger fundraising effort with the hopes of engaging other partners to expand the scope of work. 

Design and Implementation of Peracetic Acid (PAA) for Municipal Water and Wastewater Related Processes

This project will expand the scope of WE&RF research to advance the science of peracetic acid (PAA) disinfection. The intent of the ongoing research is to provide guidance on the use of PAA, its effects on aquatic life, and its impacts on water and wastewater processes. The TCR-funded portion of this project will help further broaden utility participation and engage in the regulatory aspects of the project. Thus far, the project has received support from almost a dozen WE&RF Utility subscribers, and recently, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) pledged additional support.