Engineering students take second place in WERC competition

During the spring 2023 semester, six seniors in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis’ McKelvey School of Engineering prepared for the 33rd annual WERC Environmental Design Contest as part of their environmental engineering capstone course.

In mid-April, the team traveled to New Mexico State University to compete against four other teams in the task of “recovering ammonia from produced water for beneficial reuse,” and they won second place in the bench-scale competition.

student winners
Team members (from left) Rohan Kansagra, Dylan Fernholz-Hartman, Devin Hale, Mel Ross, Jenna Murdock and team leader Kirsten Housen at the 33rd annual WERC Environmental Design Contest. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Wyckoff)

The team’s task was to develop a novel approach to recovering ammonia from produced water, a byproduct of oil and gas production from underground sources. The students’ solution involved a three-stage batch process, including activated carbon adsorption and filtration to remove particulates, an electrolytic cell to isolate ammonia ions, and an air stripper to convert liquid ammonia ions into gaseous ammonia ions.

This is WashU’s first visit to the WERC competition and only the second year that the capstone course has been offered to environmental engineers in the department. Faculty advisers Kristen Wyckoff, lecturer, and Zhen (Jason) He, professor, anticipate taking next year’s capstone class to the WERC competition as well.

Originally published by the McKelvey School of Engineering.

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