Presented on August 10, 2023 | Presentation Slides



“Cost Effective Treatment Trains for Wastewater Containing Legacy Munitions and Insensitive High Explosives” by Dr. Jennifer Weidhaas (SERDP Project ER19-1099

Manufacturing and load/assemble/pack (LAP) of munitions containing insensitive munitions generate wastewater with mixtures of legacy and new insensitive high explosives such as 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN), 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO), nitroguanidine (NQ), RDX, and ammonium perchlorate. These wastewaters present a challenge for existing treatment plants, as more soluble compounds such as NTO are less likely to adsorb to activated carbon, and various munitions have been shown to interfere with one another during biological degradation or ion exchange. Additionally, some of these compounds require a sequence of anaerobic and aerobic conditions to completely degrade to non-toxic end products and the need for this sequence complicates bioreactor design. This presentation will describe methods for selecting more efficient, cost effective, and sustainable treatment trains for mixed munitions wastewater. The combination of low energy reverse osmosis, ion exchange with brine regeneration, and granular bioreactors for treatment of mixed munitions wastewater will be discussed. These studies demonstrate the feasibility of sequential treatment trains for segregation of wastewater munitions constituents from one another and subsequent degradation. 

“Field Demonstration of an Integrated Nanoscale Zero Valent Iron-Hydrogen Peroxide Process for Complete Destruction of Munitions Compounds in Wastewater” by Mr. Brian Hubbard (SERDP Project ER18-5049

The primary objective of this project is to demonstrate and validate an integrated nanoscale zero valent iron–hydrogen peroxide (nZVI-H2O2) technology for rapid and complete destruction of insensitive munition constituents in explosives production wastewaters. The technology consists of two synergistic processes that occur sequentially in the same reactor. The innovation involves the use of nZVI to (1) rapidly decompose munitions compounds (MCs) in wastewater, and (2) activate hydrogen peroxide to achieve further destruction and mineralization of MCs and their daughter products. In the first process, nZVI not only rapidly degrades MCs, converting them into intermediates more susceptible to oxidation, but produces dissolved Fe(II) through anaerobic corrosion at low pH. H2O2 is then added to initiate the second process, Fenton oxidation. H2O2 is activated by nZVI and Fe(II) to form hydroxyl radical, a potent oxidant that further destroys MCs and their reduction products. Through multiple pilot trials, the technology has proven to be a robust energetic wastewater treatment process that achieves complete destruction of MCs in a single reactor. The presentation will describe H2O2 technology development, scale-up, and results from several field demonstrations. 

Speaker Biographies 

Dr. Jennifer Weidhaas, P.E., is an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Utah. Her research and teaching interests include environmental engineering with a particular emphasis on biological processes and the fate and transport of contaminants and microorganisms in the environment. She has served as a principal and co-principal investigator of projects funded by SERDP, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Air and Space Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Utah Department of Health, and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Dr. Weidhaas’ projects have studied topics including wastewater treatment, pathogen fate and transport in water and water reuse distribution systems, antibiotic resistance gene distribution, quantitative microbial risk assessments, herbicides and safener fate and transport, and remediation of munitions, chlorinated solvents, and rocket fuels. She has received an NSF CAREER award in recognition of her research, teaching, and service activities, authored 50 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, and delivered over 120 technical presentations. Dr. Weidhaas received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Montana State University, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Davis. 

Mr. Brian Hubbard presently serves as the Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Officer for Joint Program Executive Office Armaments and Ammunition at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. In this role, Brian is responsible for developing strategies to mitigate Environmental, Safety, and Occupational Health (ESOH) risks across the armaments and ammunition lifecycle. Previously, he served as a senior engineer for environmental compliance and pollution prevention initiatives throughout the organic industrial base, working with stakeholders to transition new technologies from concept through facility construction, and commissioning. Mr. Hubbard earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and a master’s degree in civil engineering, both from the University of Delaware.