Navigation Links
Lose the fat: Targeting grease to curtail sewer overflows

Sewer overflows are a nasty business, posing dangers to human health and the environment. North Carolina State University is launching a new project with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that targets the fat and grease that contribute to millions of overflows every year, and will give urban planners new tools to further reduce the risk of sewage spills.

At issue are overflows from "sanitary" sewer systems, as opposed to "combined" systems that also handle stormwater. EPA estimates that 40 percent of the 3 to 10 billion annual sanitary sewer overflows around the country are caused by hard deposits made up of fat, oil and grease (FOG) that clog sewage pipes. In other words, the FOG buildup is directly responsible for hundreds of millions of sewer overflows, as well as untold costs in health effects, environmental harm, cleanup expenses, and damaged public perception for the utilities.

Dr. Joel Ducoste, an associate professor of civil engineering at NC State, is launching a research effort to address the problem under a prestigious Science To Achieve Results grant from EPA.

"Our goal is to discover the fundamental chemical reactions that lead to these deposits," Ducoste says, "because if we can understand it, we can figure out how to reduce it via enhanced treatment technologies, more cost-effective maintenance and by setting appropriate regulatory standards.

"We think a reaction takes place in the sewage collection system when FOG interacts with calcium or other metal ions to form these hardened deposits," Ducoste says, "similar to the chemical reactions that are used to make household soaps. We'll be testing this as part of the grant and, if this is the case, we will explore ways to remove the substances that contribute to these deposits.

"Also," Ducoste says, "once we understand the chemistry behind these deposits, we can develop models to identify potential 'hot spots' where FOG deposits may form." Identifying these hot spots will allow utilities to use preventative maintenance to avoid overflows. Perhaps more importantly, the models could serve as useful tools for urban planners helping them determine whether an existing sewer system can sustain population growth, or if the system needs to be modified in order to accommodate future growth.

The urban planning component is essential, Ducoste says, because significant amounts of FOG get into sewage systems from high-density residential areas, such as apartment blocks and condominiums. Local governments need to be aware of potential sewer overflow problems that could stem from population growth in a concentrated area. Currently, sewage systems try to keep out FOG by using grease interceptors but they are found only at restaurants.

The EPA grant is for approximately $570,000 over three years.


Contact: Matt Shipman
North Carolina State University

Related biology news :

1. Targeting nerve growth factor may cure liver cancer
2. Gene-targeting pioneer Mario Capecchi shares 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine
3. Yale chemist receives NIH Young Investigator Award for antibody targeting
4. Titanium Group Announces Launch of New Identification Solution Targeting High Growth Retail Sector
5. Tumor-targeting viral therapy slows neuroblastoma, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors
6. AACR annual meeting showcases developments in understanding and targeting cancers
7. Motor nerve targeting to limb muscles is controlled by ephrin proteins
8. Twin nanoparticle shown effective at targeting, killing breast cancer cells
9. Peregrines PS-targeting antibodies highlighted in AACR Annual Meeting studies
10. Targeting children effective use of limited supplies of flu vaccine and could help control flu spread
11. Targeting helpers of heat shock proteins could help treat cancer, cardiovascular disease
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/2/2015)...  SRI International has been awarded a contract of ... to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer Program ... modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation to ... studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to bring ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) ... Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the ... and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has ... --> --> Synthetic biology ... potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... ANN ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... with Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... DNA to enable the preparation of NGS libraries ... in plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Mass. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... to maintain healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is ... of Health (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered ... the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 ... posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , with ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its Executive Council, ... Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV racing has ... type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the community because ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Israel , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) ... on December 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel ... Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, ... of Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir to the ... Rami Skaliter as external directors; , approval of an amendment to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: