Ecological Engineering Capstone Project

Every year the Senior Class of Ecological Engineering designs a project that simulates the experience of being a hired as a contractor by a specific client or group of clients. This capstone project, titled Senior Design, combines the skill the students have learned during their time at Oregon State University into one project that they will present at the Engineering Expo on May 19th. This year our students hope to raise enough funds to make a working model of their designs and possibly implement them in the field environment.

Instructional Objectives

Students are tasked with a unique design project that provides hands-on experience in solving the kind of complex open-ended design problems they are likely to encounter in ecological engineering practice, including satisfying physical, legal, economic, social and environmental constraints. It also provides the students with experience in the real-world application of mathematics, science, engineering economics, ethics and other disciplines related to engineering analysis and design, and a clearer perspective on the value of research in addressing contemporary problems in engineering design.  Attainment of oral and written communication to achieve a level commensurate with professional engineering practice will be a fundamental objective.

BEE 469/470 Design Problem for the Academic Year 2016-2017

Wine grapes are the largest cash crop in Oregon, exceeding hazelnuts, pears, cherries and other crops, and the number of small wineries has increased in the past decade. Wineries produce high strength wastewater during wine production season and decentralized wastewater treatment systems are being adopted to treat the wastewater in situ and reuse the water for irrigation of the vineyards. Technically there are many challenges in designing decentralized wastewater systems, including seasonally variable inflows, fluctuations in the strength of the wastewater, and maintenance of conditions for optimal growth of the microbes for effective treatment to meet the discharge regulations.

In this project you will address the technical issue of providing oxygen to a pretreatment system that is designed to reduce the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) of the incoming process wastewater by >50% so that it can be effectively handled by conventional wastewater systems. The system you are designing should be suitable for a location where line-power electricity is available but may not have internet/cellular connectivity.

You are to design a pre-aeration treatment system to be demonstrated in a 1-2 m^3 tank. Your design should balance cost (initial and operations), environmental sustainability, robustness, and feasibility. You will build your solution and it will be tested under real-world conditions as would be found in the Willamette Valley, Oregon in June-October.

Some of the challenges are:

  1. Highly variable influent wastewater streams with variable BOD concentrations.
  2. Robust operation under highly variable climatic conditions.
  3. Wide spatiotemporal variation in oxygen demand.
  4. Variation in the configuration of existing aquaculture systems.
  5. Multiple stakeholders and operators with differing needs and abilities.

The overall goal of this project is to design, develop and evaluate different strategies for pre-aeration of high strength process wastewater to reduce the effluent BOD to <500 mg/L while minimizing the economic costs and environmental impacts of the proposed design. The proposed design must strive to minimize the need to alter existing wastewater treatment designs and handling practices.

At a minimum your design must include the following elements:

  1. Meet the safety and environmental regulatory requirements.
  2. Meet functionality constraints in terms of wastewater generation patterns, BOD reduction goals, hydraulic retention times and existing practices.
  3. Consider climatic factors in your design.
  4. Economic considerations in all designs (Capital versus operating costs, comparison to the current state of affairs).
  5. Scalability to accommodate different funding scenarios.
  6. Incorporate measures to improve water reuse/recycle.

Completion of this project will include the provision of a complete, buildable design with supporting calculations demonstrating feasibility, evaluation of the net present value of the design, and testing of the device at a site located in Oregon.