First Advisor

Gwynn Johnson

Date of Publication

Summer 9-20-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering




Filters and filtration, Runoff -- Purification -- Heavy metals removal, Perlite, Biochar



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 80 pages)


Polluted stormwater, if not treated, can compromise water quality throughout our hydrologic cycle, adversely affecting aquatic ecosystems. Common stormwater pollutants, copper and zinc, have been identified as primary toxicants in multiple freshwater and marine environments. For small-scale generators, stormwater management can be cumbersome and implementation of common BMPs impractical thus catch basins are popular though not the most environmentally conscious and sustainable option. This study aims to characterize the potential of a mobile media filter operation for the treatment and on-site recycling of catch basin stormwater. The removal capacities of various commercially available filter media (e.g. a common perlite; Earthlite™, a medium largely composed of biochars; and Filter33™, a proprietary porous medium) were measured using binary injection solutions modeled after local catch basin stormwater characteristics. The results of filtration experiments, rapid small-scale column tests (RSSCTs), indicate that the transport of metals in Perlite is primarily impacted by nonspecific sorption whereas in Earthlite™ and Filter33™ both nonspecific and specific sorption are present. For all media and experimentation, there was a consistent preferential uptake of copper such that copper displayed delayed arrival and/or greater removal than zinc. Moreover, the observed snow plow effects and concentration plateaus in Earthlite™ and Filter33™ RSSCTs suggest rate limited ion exchange and specific sorption in addition to ion competition. Earthlite™ exhibited an approach velocity dependent removal efficiency in the RSSCTs and pseudo second order uptake behavior for zinc in kinetic batch experiments. At the lab scale equivalent of the proposed field scale flow rate, Filter33™ displayed the greatest average zinc removal of 8.6 mg/g. In all, this research indicates that test parameters (i.e. pH, competitive ions solutions, empty bed contact time, flow rate) based on the natural environment and field scale operation can greatly impact removal efficiency in filter media.


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