Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engr. (M.S.E.V.)


Environmental Engineering

Degree Granting Department

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Daniel H. Yeh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Albert Robert Rubin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Piet Lens, Ph.D.


Decentralized Treatment, Hydroponics, Sustainability, Urban Agriculture, Wastewater Reuse


The imbalance between global population growth and resource consumption is indicative of unsustainable practices and foreshadows a grim future of continued resource depletion, food and water scarcity, social inequality, and deteriorating public and environmental health. Meanwhile, the urban centers of the world continue to experience exponential growth resulting in overwhelmed food, water, and sanitation infrastructure. Decentralized and satellite wastewater treatment technologies capable of resource recovery, such as anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBR), foster synergistic opportunities to help manage the food, energy, and water sectors of urban environments. Specifically, the nutrient concentration and high effluent quality of permeate produced by AnMBR systems present applicability in controlled environment agriculture (CEA). The efficacy of AnMBR permeate is evaluated in a hydroponics growth study of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) grown in an outdoor greenhouse and tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) grown indoors. Nutrient analysis of permeate generated by a small, pilot scale AnMBR developed for the treatment of domestic wastewater at ambient temperature indicated sufficient concentrations of N and P elements, however high proportion of NH4+ in N species decreased growth performance. Opportunities for optimizing AnMBR permeate for hydroponics applications exist and thus imply synergistic integration of decentralized AnMBR technology with controlled environment agriculture (CEA) such as hydroponics. A model is proposed for the integration of decentralized AnMBR and CEA systems capable of producing usable plant products within the urban environment. The integration of these systems is proposed as a solution to the challenges of with food security, stressed water supplies, and environmental degradation associated with unchecked urban growth in the developing and developed world