OSU engineering students partner with City of Corvallis

April 4th, 2011 | Brandon

I’m always looking for cool examples of how OSU interacts with and supports the Corvallis community on sustainability issues.  One such story, recently detailed in the City of Corvallis newsletter, is a partnership between the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering and the City to sponsor senior projects at the Corvallis Wastewater Reclamation Plant.

Thanks to Kris De Jong, editor of “the City” newsletter, for letting us post the article.  The text and photos were provided by Keith Turner, Utilities Services Supervisor, City of Corvallis.  Check out the full version of the City newsletter online.


Wastewater Reclamation Plant Partnership

The Wastewater Reclamation Plant (WWRP) is partnering with the OSU School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering to sponsor senior projects.  The elective program, led by Dr. Philip Harding, creates projects in collaboration with local industry and government allowing students to gain real-world experience working beside seasoned professionals.  At the same time, sponsors gain solutions to real problems they are facing.

Tanks at Corvallis Wastewater Reclamation Plant

Tanks at Corvallis Wastewater Reclamation Plant

Last spring, OSU students analyzed energy use at the WWRP Chemical Storage building and discovered several opportunities. Storage conditions for chemicals used in the wastewater disinfection and dechlorination process must be kept above 55 degrees to keep the active chemicals in solution.  (Insert Picture of Tanks) Another issue is that the building must be ventilated to keep working conditions safe for staff.  A system to recover the heat loss is currently in place, but natural gas is still required and the usage is higher than staff would like.

One alternative explored is a high-energy waste gas produced as a byproduct of the WWRP treatment process.  Much of this energy is recovered using a boiler (Insert Picture) to heat the digester and onsite WWRP buildings, but the OSU students thought we could do better.  They analyzed historic chemical storage building natural gas use, ambient temperatures, and the heat exchanger capacity of the heat recovery system.  They found that it would be cost-effective to use the waste gas to heat the Chemical Storage building and to convert the heat recovery system to a more efficient one.  The estimated savings would be about $1,600 per year in addition to reducing natural gas usage and maximizing waste gas usage.  This project is now in the pipeline for implementation.

Looking ahead, a new team of OSU students is gearing up for a project to optimize the wastewater nutrient removal processes at the WWRP.  Certain wastewater streams are rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, magnesium and other nutrients.  WWRP processes are currently able to remove some nutrients, but again, staff would like to do more.  In coming weeks, the students will be investigating two nutrient removal processes and determining the best blend of waste streams to remove the most nutrients. It is hoped that the recovered nutrients can be economically captured in a form suitable for use as a fertilizer.

Boiler at Corvallis Wastewater Reclamation Plant

Boiler at Corvallis Wastewater Reclamation Plant

Staff at the Wastewater Reclamation Plant appreciate this new partnership with the OSU School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering.  We look forward to many years of beneficial and fun projects that engage local students in improving City operations for our community.

4 Responses to “OSU engineering students partner with City of Corvallis”

  1. Wastewater recycling is vital in any eco friendly society. Well done, impressive work.

  2. Vicki Elmer says:

    Yes, I’d love Dr. Harding’s contact info and would love an e-mail introduction!


  3. Brandon says:

    Thanks Vicki. Let me know if you’d like Dr. Harding’s contact information, and I’ll do an email introduction.

  4. Vicki Elmer says:

    This is fabulous! Wonder if you would be interested in helping out a studio class next year at the University of Oregon where we will be designing an eco-district for a redevelopment area in Springfield. I’m interested in having the students evaluate several decentralized solutions for the area, including source separation, neighborhood based WWT, or on-site black water treatment to maximize energy and nutrient recovery.

    I’m not an engineer (a planner with specialty in infrastructure and capital budgeting and finance) so I would welcome some support for our class.


    Vicki Elmer, Ph.D., Director
    Oregon Leadership in Sustainability
    Adjunct Faculty, Dept of Public Policy, Planning and Management
    University of Oregon