The objective of this study is to investigate the technical feasibility of treating food-processing
wastewater to direct potable reuse in Washington State. Washington State is a leading producer
of numerous fruit and vegetable crops. The agriculture and food-manufacturing sector is a
cornerstone of Washington’s economy in both rural communities and metropolitan areas.
Communities use in excess of 60 percent of their annual potable water to supply food-processing
industries. The food processing industries in the arid climate of central Washington are facing
challenges due to climate change, water shortage and groundwater depletion. Hence, there is a
critical need for reuse of wastewater for sustainability of food processing industries in
Washington State. Food processing wastewater is high in salt and organic contents. Excessive
salt in the soil will eventually cause the fields to be incapable of growing crops. Hence,
desalination of food processing wastewater is necessary. However, desalination of food
processing wastewater remains a challenge due to its high salt and organic matter contents.
Membranes for treating wastewater with high organic loading are extremely susceptible to
biofouling. Therefore, there is a critical need to improve the antifouling properties of membranes
to prevent biofouling during the desalination of food processing wastewater.
In this project, we will develop novel two dimensional nanostructure-based membranes for
desalination of food processing wastewater. Two dimensional nanomaterials, one atom thick, can
significantly reduce membrane thickness and reduce membrane fouling and increase water
permeability. To address this need and produce effective nanocomposite membranes, we will use
a combination of graphene family nanomaterials and transition metal dichalcogenides to provide
both antifouling and foul release properties. We will also work with food processing facilities in
Quincy and Othello (both in Washington State) as wastewater sampling locations. Washington
State Department of Ecology will support our efforts with food processing facilities. It will take
three tasks to accomplish the proposed project. In Task 1, we will collect wastewater from food
processing facilities in Quincy and Othello, WA. We will develop membranes using the selected
two dimensional nanomaterials in Task 2. In Task 3, will include testing the performance of the
membranes using the food processing wastewater. Membranes that show excellent antifouling
properties will be recommended for the desalination of food processing wastewater with high
salt content. The team will work with Washington State Department of Ecology and Washington
State Department of Health to discuss the test results and required modifications to meet direct
potable standards.
This proposed project will provide support for one Ph.D. student and contribute to the thesis of
the student. Additionally, this project supports the mentoring of Assistant Professor (Dr.
Chowdhury) by a senior faculty member (Dr. Carpenter-Boggs). The work performed will
provide the basis for subsequent publications and funding proposals investigating the food
wastewater reuse. The research team will disseminate findings of this and future studies to the
stakeholders through relationships fostered in the present project.

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