Team places second at national Intelligent Water Systems Challenge

10/25/2022 2:23:49 PM

Left to right: Jeff Sparks, Sam Aguiar, Aryan Emaminejad and competition coordinator Fenghua Yang.
Left to right: Jeff Sparks, Sam Aguiar, Aryan Emaminejad and competition coordinator Fenghua Yang.

A team led by Ph.D. candidate Aryan Emaminejad placed second overall at the 2022 Intelligent Water Systems Challenge, held by the Water Research Foundation and the Water Environment Federation to demonstrate the value of intelligent water systems to utilities and foster the adoption of smart water technologies. The team also won the Most Elegant Solution Award. The national competition was open to all U.S. water/wastewater professionals including vendors, consultants, utilities, and researchers and students. 

In addition to Emaminejad, team members included fellow CEE Ph.D. candidate Samuel Aguiar, Juliana Mejia Franco (Technology Provider, Sentry, Canada), and Jeff Sparks (Utility Partner, Hampton Roads Sanitation District Nansemond Treatment Plant, Va.). The team was advised by CEE assistant professor R.D. Cusick.

The team developed a set of artificial intelligence and machine-learning models with a focus on Bio-Electrochemical Sensor signals to monitor the denitrification efficiency at the Hampton Roads Sanitation District Nansemond Treatment Plant, and also provide monthly predictions of influent shock loading events in its influent stream. This supplies the plant with a feedforward control component to their already existing biological nutrient removal strict feedback control system, with significant operational benefits ranging from increased process resilience to potential chemical cost savings.

According to Emaminejad, their study is the first of its kind to provide scientific evidence on the utility of Bio-Electrochemical Sensor signals to be used as the strongest predictor of carbon metabolism/uptake processes in water resource recovery facilities. The team hopes to publish their results soon.

The competition took place during WEFTEC 2022 in New Orleans on October 10, 2022.