Collaborative Research: Ferrates(FeVI, FeV, and FeIV) Oxidation for Mitigation of Pharmaceutical Micropollutants in Source-Separated Urine: Underlying Mechanisms Grant uri icon


  • Although human urine accounts for only 1% of domestic wastewater, it contributes 80% of nitrogen (N), 50% of phosphorus (P), and 60% of pharmaceuticals. While diverting urine to recover N and P has been proposed as an efficient alternative to conventional wastewater treatment, removing pharmaceuticals would also be highly beneficial. Effective destruction of pharmaceuticals in diverted urine would greatly minimize the energy costs and increase efficiency of removal compared to conventional wastewater treatment. Urine is a particularly challenging matrix for the removal of pharmaceuticals. However, recent work shows that iron (ferrate) containing advanced oxidation technology (AOT) holds great promise as a treatment alternative. The proposed research is to develop ferrate-based treatment for pharmaceutical removal from urine. The project is transformative in that it represents a fundamental re-thinking of conventional treatment systems for combined pharmaceutical removal and wastewater management. The proposed technology will complement research efforts on N and P recovery in diverted urine in a holistic manner to protect public and ecosystem health, and enhance the water security of the Nation.The goal of this study is to develop ferrate (FeVI, FeV and FeIV)-based AOT for destruction of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites in source-separated urine. The focus of the proposed research is on elucidating the underlying oxidation mechanisms and optimizing treatment efficiency. To achieve this goal, the specific research objectives are to: (i) investigate the degradation of selected pharmaceuticals and metabolites in real and synthetic urines; (ii) characterize the reaction mechanisms of ferrates with pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical metabolites and common urine components; (iii) identify reactive oxidation products of pharmaceuticals and urine components with ferrates; (iv) develop kinetic models to predict decay of FeVI and degradation of pharmaceuticals by FeVI in urine related matrices; (v) validate the research results obtained from synthetic urine matrices with those in real urine matrices; and (vi) evaluate the toxicity of oxidized products of pharmaceuticals by ferrates. A range of educational activities related to this project will also be conducted. They include teaching and recruiting minority students to participate in research though partnerships with minority institutions in Texas and a minority-student summer research program at Georgia Tech, teaching K-12 STEM teachers in science fair activities, develop teaching modules for undergraduate and graduate courses based on the proposed research, and broadly disseminate research results via publications, at national/international meetings, and at venues by the new interdisciplinary program at Texas A&M.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • 2018 - 2021