Biochar Infiltration Columns for Removal of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Stormwater

L. Lippman, S. Lesch, T. Navab-Daneshmand
Inventors Enterprise,
United States

Keywords: Biochar, stormwater, antibiotic resistance


Water reuse and antibiotic resistance are growing problems in the modern world. Agriculture uses about 70% of the world’s freshwater withdrawals. Finding ways to apply stormwater helps limit waste of such a valuable resource. The World Health Organization has labeled antibiotic resistance as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” Water can swiftly transmit diseases and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Cleaning water can be an expensive and energy intensive process. The aim of this project is to test the use of biochar as an effective and inexpensive form of stormwater treatment. Biochar is made from organic material that undergoes pyrolysis. It serves as an adsorbent for contaminants in water such as heavy metals and antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is commonly used in land applications as a soil amendment, but there is concern as to how long biochar is effective and what happens to the absorbed contaminants when it is saturated. Three infiltration columns will be tested; one containing biochar, one with soil and biochar, and one with soil. Using culture-based methods, bacteria in the stormwater will be quantified before and after treatment through infiltration columns in triplicates. One objective of the experiment is to discern how long the columns can remove an adequate amount of bacteria. The next objective is to filter sterilized water through the columns and test whether the biochar or soil release contaminants. The efficacy of each column type will be compared and analyzed for several months to determine the best step for future use of biochar.