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EPA grants $1.25 million to Nebraska Engineering for advancing water, energy technologies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1,249,995 to the UNL College of Engineering’s Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction to work on Advanced Decentralized Water/Energy Network Design for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Dr. Jonathan Shi, program chair for Construction Management, leads the five-year grant with colleagues including faculty based at Omaha’s Peter Kiewit Institute. According to Shi, the project objectives are to develop and evaluate advanced decentralized drinking water and wastewater technologies by coupling them with innovative renewable energy and energy saving/recovery technologies, and then incorporate the proven technologies into green building and community design and construction.

Focusing on household and community levels, Shi’s team will research and develop decentralized drinking water and wastewater technologies to improve drinking water quality, reduce the demand for fresh water intake, increase water reuse, and reduce the burden on existing water and waste water treatment facilities.

Shi cited examples of renewable energy saving and recovery technologies including use of heat pumps, adaptive photovoltaic (PV) systems, and elastic power response controls. He said the next steps would apply those technologies to households, implement field testing and validation in test home sites, and extend these developments through web resources for community planning, such as a decision support model with virtual environment.

“The benefits of this work will help utilities in designing new drinking water and wastewater systems, implementing comprehensive asset management, providing reliable service to customers, and meeting their Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act requirements,” Shi said. “They will also help homebuilders apply advanced decentralized dual water distribution systems, waste separation systems, treatment technologies, and innovative energy technologies in developing green buildings and communities.”

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