November 2021

Prof. Won and WEX Fellow Dr. Abahusayn reach record moisture harvest from fog

Prof. Yoonjin Won of the UCI Mechanical and Aerospace Department has been working with WEX Fellow Dr. Abahusayn on enhancing the harvest of atmospheric moisture from fog. They reached a record performance exceeding 75% recovery in their experiments.

This technology breakthrough is expected to disrupt the atmospheric collection field with applications to arid areas worldwide.

October 2021

WEX Center partners with CWT for evaluation of advanced wastewater treatment technologies

The WEX Center team lead by Director Rosso, including Dr. B. Tarroja and WEX Fellow Dr. Imre Takacs, is partnering with Caliskaner Water Technologies, Inc. in an upcoming technology development and demonstration project sponsored by the California Energy Commission. This is a 3-year evaluation of Advanced Primary Treatment (APT) and Advanced Secondary Treatment (AST) technologies, against conventional treatment, to quantify the benefits in terms of effluent water quality, cost, and carbon/energy footprint. The project will include the first full-scale demonstration combined APT+AST technologies and will be performed in Linda County.

(Photo: Dr. Onder Caliskaner and Director Rosso at WEFTEC 2018)

August 2021

Dr. Nikos Melitas from LACSD

named WEX Fellow

Dr. Nikos Melitas, Research Manager at the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, was named WEX Fellow in August 2021. Dr. Melitas has been fostering collaboration with faculty, postdocs, and students of the WEX Center for a number of years. As LACSD's research head, he has catalyzed research on energy-efficiency, monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 virus in water, and advanced data analytics. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Arizona.

Brown and Caldwell joins the WEX Center

Starting in April 2021, Brown and Caldwell joins the WEX Center with the sponsorship of research on microplastics and PFAS. Prof. Adeleye and Rosso will expand the research activities on these emerging contaminants to include the transport in the environment through solid streams. Undergraduate and graduate students will be supported by the WEX Center thanks to this collaboration.

WEX Leaders present WBE work on COVID

The WEX Center Associate Director and Director, Profs. Jiang and Rosso, presented the WEX-led effort on wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) to utilities in Southern California. WBE is a valuable tool that can be used to quantify the number of cases of COVID-19, for example, in the aggregate population served by a sewershed. The utilities partnering with the WEX Center and participating in this project include the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, the Irvine Ranch Water District, and the Santa Margarita Water District.

Prof. Jiang is leading a publication summarizing the monitoring campaign for COVID-19.

Investigating flexible WRRF operation to better enable renewable electric grids

The development of low-cost, highly renewable electric grids will depend on harnessing flexibility in different electric loads to better align with renewable generation, including loads from the water treatment infrastructure. Dr. Brian Tarroja leverages modeling of increasingly renewable grid operations to understand how sources of electric load flexibility can better facilitate renewable energy integration. He is currently collaborating with WEX Director Rosso to combine electric grid modeling with dynamic, process-based modeling of water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) to investigate how these facilities can shift their electric loads to uptake more renewable energy without compromising treatment quality. This research can illuminate practices to both reduce the carbon footprint of WRRFs and also better support renewable energy integration into distribution and transmission grids.

Research on PFAS lead by Prof. Adeleye

One of the major risks to water sustainability is the presence of emerging contaminants in natural and engineered water systems. Dr. Adeleye’s research encompasses environmental analytical chemistry, environmental nanotechnology, and interactions of environmental contaminants. His current research topics include occurrence and interactions of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and plastic debris; application and implication of nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI); and synthesis of novel materials for environmental remediation.

The Water Research Foundation names WEX Center's Associate Director Jiang lead researcher for SARS-CoV-2 study

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) has selected the WEX Center Associate Director Prof. Sunny Jiang as lead researcher for the study Understanding the Factors that Affect the Detection and Variability of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater (project 5093). The team lead by Prof. Jiang includes about a dozen between co-investigators (WEX Center Director Prof. Rosso and UCSB's Prof. Trish Holden), graduate students and postdocs, partner utilities, and consultants.

This project, co-founded by the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation, will investigate how to optimize sampling design in sewers and treatment facilities to quantify aggregate viral counts within communities at different scales.

Prof. Yoonjin Won collaborates with WEX Fellow Abahusayn on atmospheric water harvest

Prof. Yoonjin Won of the UCI Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department has been working with WEX Fellow Dr. Mansur Abahusayn on advanced materials for enhancing water harvest from the atmosphere.

She has been recognized with the NSF CAREER Award and her work focuses on microscale thermo-fluid phenomena with the development of innovative materials and metrologies to address energy and thermal challenges.

Fall 2020

WEX investigation on wastewater treatment in the Andes

The WEX Center Director Diego Rosso (top picture) is working with the inaugural WEX Fellow Daniel Nolasco (middle picture) on the investigation of wastewater treatment in the Andean Region. This work is involving Prof. Andrés Baquero-Rodriguez of the Universidad Militar de Nueva Granada (UMNG) in Colombia (bottom picture). The team is investigating the effects of high elevation on the design and specification of wastewater treatment plants. This topic is timely and important for this region of the world that is undergoing infrastructural development in the water sector.

Previously, Prof. Baquero has been Visiting Scholar at the WEX Center and has catalyzed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between our institutions.

WEX Center research on COVID-19 led by Prof. Sunny Jiang

Dr. Zhiquan Song working on COVID-19 research in Prof. Sunny Jiang’s laboratory.

May 2020

The OC Register features Prof. Sunny Jiang, WEX Associate Director, for her research on COVID-19 in sewers, in the article titled Poop tests in sewage might predict coronavirus surge

Significant numbers of COVID-19 patients shed SARS-CoV-2 virus in their feces. The virus was now found in municipal wastewater. Monitoring of municipal wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 can serve as an indicator of the spread of COVID-19 in the community and provide an early warning for the resurgence of the disease.

Researchers at the WEX Center, led by Prof. Sunny Jiang, are developing methods to concentrate and purify SARS-CoV-2 from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in California and other parts of the county. The samples are analyzed for the presence and concentration of SARS-CoV-2. The viral concentration data are correlated with the reported cases of COVID-19 in the WWTP service area to understand the relationship between fecal shedding rate and wastewater concentration. The positive samples are also sequenced to determine the genetic variability and potential evolution of the virus over time as it spreading among human society.

Spring 2020

WEX Fellow Dr. Imre Takács teaching carbon and energy footprint modeling using SUMO

This Spring quarter, Dr. Imre Tàkacs joins Prof. Rosso in teaching ENGRCEE164/264 - Carbon and Energy Footprint Modeling of Water.

Course description: Process design for wastewater treatment. Mass- and energy-balance analysis applied to water and wastewater treatment systems. Case studies include analysis of water supply, treatment, reclamation, and reuse.
Dynamita SUMO is the dynamic process simulator used this year in class


Dr. Takács has authored one of the most cited papers in his field, developing the first dynamic model for solid separation in secondary settling. His pioneering work with WEX Fellow Daniel Nolasco lead to the development of dynamic process simulators as they are known today. He opened his company Dynamita in 2010.

Dr. Takács holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Technology from Ghent University and degrees in Environmental Bioengineering from the University of Budapest.

Dr. Imre Takács, CEO of Dynamita was named WEX Fellow in August 2019.

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April 2020

Science and its Method: a seminar on curiosity and constructive disobedience

CEE Seminar by Prof. Rosso