FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The partnership flows between Fort Riley and Kansas State University as scientific data gathered on an Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor will be presented by a K-State graduate student in Topeka, Kansas, in early February.

The Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program along with the Strategic Environmental Research provided funds to the Army to conduct research on Sustainable Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery. In doing so, Fort Riley was the second home -- globally -- for an AnMBR system.

As funding ended, Fort Riley completed the research at the end of 2017 and the system was brought to an end the second week of January, said Chris Otto, recycle and solid waste coordinator for the Directorate of Public Works -- Environmental Division.
The annual data gathered from AnMBR at Fort Riley was conducted and gathered as a partnership with K-State.

With the help of the partnership, K-State assigned Kahao Lim, graduate student in civil engineering, to Fort Riley's AnMBR as he ran and operated the system.
In an email, Lim said he held a wide range of duties on the project.
"I was the person physically fixing and adjusting the valves and piping, evaluating system health and performance and cleaning up any problems on site," he said.

Operating the bioreactor was not a one-man job. Lim said the partnership with Fort Riley is what helped maintain the system.

"Because the AnMBR was built on-base, and K-State's proximity, it was decided that it would be a win-win to provide a research opportunity to K-State while having 24/7 on-call staffers in case any emergencies happened with the system," Lim said. "I managed a team of undergraduate students that I had trained to do routine maintenance and sample collection. Many of the decisions on what to change with the system to optimize performance were based on observations that were made on site. By having K-State and Fort Riley working closely together, we were able to monitor the system much more closely and address problems immediately as they arose, which lead to smoother operation, more data collected and better accuracy of our data as well."

The bioreactor at Fort Riley is contained in a conex box type trailer, Otto said.

"Wastewater comes in and is treated through an anaerobic membrane bioreactor, which means it does the treatment process without any oxygen," Otto said. "When it does that, the bacteria that survives the anaerobic conditions produces a lot of methane -- both gas that comes out of when they are treating it and dissolved methane in the water."

The methane that was in gas and liquid form was then captured and quantified by Lim and his team of undergraduates to see how much power was produced.

"They were one of the few that actually measured the dissolved methane," Otto said. "So if they were able to run it through a generator they would be able to produce extra energy from waste water that was used to clean it."

Through the data gathered by Lim, his team of undergraduates and partnership with Fort Riley, he was selected by a committee to present his work at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka Feb. 20.

"I was selected by a judging committee after presenting my work on the Fort Riley Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor at the 'Research and the State' poster competition at K-State for graduate students," Lim said. "The winners of that competition were selected to represent K-State at Topeka to present my research. The presentation highlights the value of research for the state of Kansas. In this case, we (developed) and successfully (implemented) high level technical solutions that have the potential to meet Kansas' water, nutrient and energy needs."

Patrick Evans, project investigator for the Fort Riley AnMBR and lead environmental process engineer expert and Bellevue research and testing laboratory director from CDM Smith, said the coming months they will write and publish several peer-reviewed papers on the research.

In an email, Evans said, "we will be writing two major reports . . . then we will be writing several peer-reviewed papers on the research. We also plan on writing articles for trade journals such as 'the Military Engineer and Water Environment and Technology.'"

For a project overview, visit www.serdp-estcp.org/Program-Areas/Environmental-Restoration/Wastewater-and-Drinking-Water/ER-201434/ER-201434.